Tag: Lydney Town Council

Lydney Town Council Annual Report

I am proud to say that Lydney Town Council has been generous enough to publish a short piece about Escaping Hitler in its Annual Report for 2015-16.  The Annual Meeting was held on 18th April.  The small market town of Lydney in Gloucestershire still holds a place in Joe’s heart, his second home in England, the place that educated him, the people who befriended and cherished him.  On behalf of a 91 year old Kindertransport refugee, I thank them.


Left to right: Günter at 15, Alan Allsopp, Doris Allsopp (mother) and Hazel Allsopp.  This family along with father Eddie cared for the young refugee for four years.



In the freezing January of 1940, a fourteen-year-old Jewish German refugee, Kindertransport boy Günter Stern, arrived in Lydney from Birmingham to join the evacuated Yardley Grammar School. Lodging for three years in Springmeadow with Eddie and Doris Allsopp and their children Alan and Hazel, the boy thrived in their care. He became Deputy Head Boy, passing up a University place to volunteer for the British Army. Over seventy years later, in January 2016, Pen and Sword Books has published Escaping Hitler: A Jewish Boy’s Quest for Freedom and His Future, the biography of Günter’s remarkable ninety-year life.

Norwich writer Phyllida Scrivens spent four years researching the many aspects of 91-year-old Joe Stirling; Günter’s adult name as changed by the British Army; including his time in the Forest of Dean. She says, ‘A letter to The Forester newspaper in 2013 led to Joe being reunited with Hazel Allsopp after many years. In 2014 I visited Lydney, taking tea with resident Barbara Vedmore (née Hyde) who as a girl, was a close neighbour and friend of young Günter. Barbara generously shared fond memories of the young refugee, stories now captured in my book.’

In 1946 Joe married a Norfolk girl and moved to Norwich, his home for nearly seventy years. His destiny was to become a Labour Party Agent, leading member of Lions International, pioneering travel agent and ultimately Sheriff of Norwich in 1975. He would be in his seventies before he learnt of the fate of his parents in the Holocaust.

Joe says, ‘I have never forgotten the kindness of the Allsopp family, the teachers at the school and the people of Lydney. They showed compassion, friendship and tolerance to a German boy in a time of war.’

Learn more at www.escapinghitler.com. The book is available on Amazon.co.uk and Kindle, or for a copy signed by both author and Joe Stirling, contact Phyllida.scrivens@icloud.com. Books cost £19.50 plus £4 postage.


In the first month of 1940, during a particularly hard winter, young Günter Stern arrived by steam train into the town of Lydney in Gloucestershire.  Only five months earlier he had arrived in England on a Kindertransport, fourteen years old with only one small suitcase.  His guardians, the Free family of Birmingham, secured him a place at Yardley Grammar School, only to find the school evacuated to Lydney before he could even begin his education.  So began three years in a classroom, on the playing fields and walking in the Forest. The boy from the Rhineland is to this day indebted to the wonderful people of Lydney, particularly Eddie and Doris Allsopp, who took him into their hearts and made the boy into the man who become Joe Stirling less than a year later.

I am delighted to say that in April next year I will be taking the boy back to Lydney.  Not the real one, sadly at 91 he will not travel that far, but his biography, Escaping Hitler: A Jewish Boy’s Quest for Freedom and His Future.  His story of life before Lydney, the people and places in Lydney which shaped the rest of his life, his future once he left there for ever. The photographs that reveal so much.  I have been invited by Lydney Town Council to be a part of their Annual Town Meeting, give a short presentation and display the book for their interest.  It will be a pleasure.




Photos show the house in Springmeadow where Gunter lodged with the Allsopps, and Lydney station where he would have arrived, excited but nervous, about to start his education.