Tag: Norwich City Council

Norwich Civic Association St George’s Day Dinner with Joe Stirling in attendance.

As a former Sheriff of Norwich (1975-6) Joe Stirling, the star of Escaping Hitler: A Jewish Boy’s Quest for Freedom and His Future (Pen and Sword Books 2016), was naturally invited to the annual black-tie dinner of the Norwich Civic Association.  This year I was also invited as the after-dinner speaker, to speak about my new book The Lady Lord Mayors of Norwich 1923-2017 (Pen and Sword Books, 2018).  It was an honour and a privilege to address this most knowledgable of audiences!  All seemed to go well and Joe enjoyed his evening immensely.  Victor and I are now taking a well earned break for a couple of weeks.  Back with more updates on Joe soon.

IMG_1676

Phyllida and Joe at Civic Association Dinner, 23rd April 2018

Incredible list of speaking engagements for Escaping Hitler 2016 & 2017

 

LT-Escaping Hitler Feb 17 (10)

 

Mindful that in early November Joe and I will be undertaking our final speaking engagement of 2017, to the good ladies of the Hopton-on-Sea Women’s Institute, I thought I would take a look through our visits since Escaping Hitler was published in January 2016.  I was amazed at the number of groups I/we have spoken to, resulting in nearly 300 signed books sold following the talks.  If you then add in sales directly from book exhibitions and individual readers approaching me online or via the telephone, total direct sales amount to 891 and counting!  Unbelievable.  I thought you might be interested in seeing the list of talks, the vast majority of which were in Norwich and surrounding area. (Photo taken at Norfolk Record Office on 8th February 2017) Thanks to all those who have invited us.  We  already have 11 dates in the diary for 2018!

ESCAPING HITLER 64 Speaking Engagements in Norfolk and beyond during 2016 and 2017

 

Norwich Ladies Luncheon Club
Old Catton Women’s Institute
Official Launch at Jarrolds Department Store, Norwich
Norwich Synagogue
Belton Women’s Institute
Norwich North Liberal Democrats
Norwich Chamber Music Club
Wymondham Heritage Society
The Norfolk Club
Norwich Community History Group
Out and about Club
Mercedes Benz Owners Club evening
Walsingham Historical Society
East Anglia Women Networking Group
Brooke Women’s Institute
Lions International Regional Conference, Colchester
Sunday Assembly, Norwich
Association of Jewish Refugees
Mid Norfolk Family History Society
Rotary Club of Norwich St Edmund
Attleborough Public Library
Koblenz Federal Archive, Rhineland
The village of Nickenich, Rhineland
Great Hospital Group
Townswomen Guild Central Norwich Group
Mulbarton Words Week
Townwomen’s Guild Eaton Group
East Anglia Festival of Culture, Lowestoft
Wymondham British Legion
Recycled Teenagers Group
Norwich Business Women’s Network
Norwich Inter-faith Group
Liberal Democrat Regional Conference
Time Travellers Meeting, Heritage Centre, Forum
Sprowston History Group
Norwich Lunchtime Women’s Institute
Bure School, Aylsham
Norwich Ladies Luncheon Club
UEA Retirement Group
Paston College, North Walsham
Norwich Labour Party History Group
The Norwich School
Norfolk Record Office
Aylsham Library
Vale Probus Club Ladies’ Lunch
Koblenz Norwich Friendship Society AGM
Unison Trade Union Retired Members Norfolk Branch
Wymondham Sixth Form College
Salvation Army Ladies’ Fellowship
Mid Norfolk Family History Society
Civil Service Retirement Fellowship
Easton Women’s Institute
Maddermarket Theatre for Performance of Kindertransport
Beccles Probus Club
Lakenham Townswomen’s Guild
Catton Townswomen’s Guild
Mileham W.I. Near King’s Lynn
Holt Women’s Institute
Thetford Society
Get Together Group Norwich Theatre Royal
Brooklands Care Home, Taverham
The Probus Club of Wymondham and District

Broadland Housing Association, Dereham

Cringleford W.I.

Joe’s story featured in Norwich play script

Yesterday, Saturday 8th July 2017, on a sunny lunchtime, I was in the audience for a performance of ‘Come Yew In: A Proud History of Strangers in Norwich’, a lively 90 minute review featuring music and dance.  This new production from theatre company The Common Lot was part of the annual Lord Mayor’s Celebration weekend.  Director Simon Floyd had approached Joe to ask if his story might be included in the drama.  It was wonderful to see his story, so familiar to me, being communicated via a different media, so sensitively capsulated in such a brief moment.  Here is the video footage I took so that you could share the moment.

 

 

Joe Stirling is guest of honour at Holocaust Memorial Service in Norwich Cathedral January 27th 2017

This morning I attended the annual Civic Holocaust Memorial Service, this year for the first time held in the majestic Norwich Cathedral.  Joe Stirling was the guest of honour and the Sheriff of Norwich, Richard Marks, made the opening welcome address.  I was taken by surprise when at the end of his speech he mentioned my book.  He kindly gave me permission to share his words with you.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, the theme of this 2017 Holocaust Memorial Day is “How Can Life Go On?”

When we contemplate the millions of victims of the Nazi genocide in Europe in WWII, six million Jews, and millions more including Polish and Russian dissidents, the Roma and Gypsies, Jehovah’s witnesses, disabled people, gay people, freemasons and trades unionist, we might think that humankind would have learnt some lessons. But the history of the 20th and 21st Centuries suggests otherwise

And we indeed ask ourselves the question, after such loss, after such suffering, “How Can Life Go On?”But if human beings have an almost limitless capacity for destruction, they have an equally remarkable capacity for starting all over again. At least one member of our congregation today vividly demonstrates this – Joe Stirling has contributed to public life, primarily Norfolk public life for more than sixty years.

But his early life was spent in Germany and at first it was idyllic. But after Hitler came to power, Joe witnessed that country’s descent into barbarism and sadistic brutality was meted out to his friends and family. At the age of 14, Joe decided to walk to England but was returned to his village. He eventually left on the last kinder transport out of Germany, and never saw his beloved family again. He arrived in Britain in 1939, enlisted in the British Army in 1944 and he became High Sheriff of Norwich – this fine city – in 1975. If you want to know more about the fascinating intervening years, you will have to read his extraordinary biography!

Joe demonstrates that, even after personal tragedy, people can live happy and fulfilling lives and become huge contributors to the public good. He proves to us that, given great courage and the kindness of strangers, good will triumph over evil and that indeed life can go on.”

Alex Bennett, from the Norwich Hebrew Congregation chanted the Memorial Prayer and the Mourners’ Kaddish; always so wonderful to hear the unusual Hebrew sounds resonating in a spiritual space.  The Vicar of St Peter Mancroft, Revd Robert Avery read the moving piece by Pastor Martin Niemoller, now traditional at this service.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Throughout the service my thoughts returned again and again to Alfred and Ida Stern, Joe’s parents who were murdered by the Nazis in the Sobibor Death Camp in 1942.  May they rest in peace.

Photos show Alfred and Ida Stern in 1937, Norwich Cathedral, Sheriff Richard Marks, Joe Stirling and Alex Bennett.

 

Remembrance Sunday 2016

This morning I had the honour of being the guest of Joe Stirling at the Act of Remembrance hosted by Norwich City Council.  I stood with him on the famous balcony of Norwich City Hall, where the Queen and other members of royalty have stood on special occasions since the late 1930s.  The sun shone and the soldiers, both young and old, looked magnificent in their uniforms and medals. The clergy and the choir from St Peter de Mancroft Church turned out in their snow white surplices.   The Salvation Army provided the music and the Two Minute Silence followed by Reveille was moving as always. The Lord Mayor, Marion Maxwell looked splendid in her gown and hat as she laid a wreath alongside those from the service groups, including of course The Royal British Legion.  Another great Norwich Civic Event, witnessed by a good crowd of locals and shoppers.  Thanks to Joe for inviting me.

They shall not grow old as we who are left grow old

Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.

Two Sheriffs meet in Wymondham

Last evening, 22nd September 2016, I visited a meeting of the Wymondham Heritage Society, in the same hall where I spoke about Escaping Hitler some months ago. I was there to listen to former Sheriff of Norwich William Armstrong. At my side was Joe Stirling, 91 year old subject of my biography and also a former Sheriff of Norwich from 1975.  Members of the Society, who were unaware we planned to join them, were most welcoming and delighted to meet Joe in person.  We listened to William’s address, enjoying his historical outline of the role and his anecdotal stories from his year as Sheriff from 2014-15.

This was more than just a social night out – William was Sheriff alongside Lord Mayor Judith Lubbock, the fifteenth female Lord Mayor of Norwich, who will have her own chapter in my new book My Lady Lord Mayor: the Seventeen Female Lord Mayors of Norwich 1923-2017.  This will be published by Pen and Sword Books in February 2018.  I was hoping for some insight into Judith as Lord Mayor and certainly William mentioned a number of events that they shared during that civic year.  If anyone is interested in following my progress with the new book, there is a blog at myladylordmayor.com along with an accompanying Facebook page.  You’d be most welcome as a new follower!

Photos here show William and Judith attending a Chinese New Year event on Riverside in the City in February 2015, alongside Joe and his wife Jean on the day Joe was inaugurated as Sheriff in May 1975. Same robe, same chain, different hat!  William told us that the hat was too small for his head so Norwich City Council bought him a new one!

 

Escaping Hitler Presentation at Mulbarton Words Festival June 2016

I am indebted to Terence Burchell from Mulbarton near Norwich for this video of me speaking to a lovely audience at Hanover Gardens, Mulbarton in June this year, as part of the Mulbarton Words Festival.  I hope some of you will take 30 minutes of your lives to watch as I describe the early life of Joe Stirling, Kindertransport boy and former Sheriff of Norwich, as well as a little about how my debut biography came to be published by Pen and Sword Books in January.  In January 2017 this remarkable man’s story will be available even more widely when Skyhorse Publishing of New York publish and distribute my book to the book lovers of the U.S.A.  To purchase a signed copy directly from me take a look at the menu on this WordPress blog to find my contact details.  Many thanks….