This afternoon I drove Joe Stirling and his niece Gail to visit a lovely lady in a village near Norwich called Little Plumstead. I came across Ann Ramsbottom when looking at the recent ‘Let’s Talk’ website following the article by Derek James about Joe. Ann had previously written to the editor of ‘Let’s Talk’ on the subject of the person you would most like to meet. Ann had written: ‘The person I would love to meet is Joe Stirling, former travel agent and Sheriff of Norwich. I was very moved by story on the radio and find him a very brave and fascinating gentleman’. I thought ‘I can make this happen’ and this afternoon I did. We had an appointment after lunch, rolled up and found a lovely genuine couple who have lived in their bungalow since 1967. Ann was clearly ‘star struck’ and Joe loved it! We had tea and home-made cake and Joe told Ann snippets from his story, while they shared with us their son’s success in a Cross-Sahara endurance run. Photos were taken, hands were shaken, thank you’s all round. Thank you to Ann and husband Reg for their hospitality.
I am indebted to journalist Derek Neale who has included some free publicity for my book Escaping Hitler, in the May edition of nostalgia magazine Let’s Talk Magazine published in Norwich. The story on Joe Stirling is amongst other articles in a special supplement to note the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. Thanks Derek. I will admit I am feeling the pressure right now with one week to go to my deadline for submission. Ploughing on, not quite there yet……
Two weeks to go until my deadline to submit the manuscript to my publisher Pen and Sword Books. Working hard now on the final edits, captioning photographs, writing my ‘author’s introduction’, checking my format against the ‘House Style’ rules. Have had final formal interview with Joe Stirling this week, it was a difficult and quite emotional moment saying goodbye, knowing that I will not see him again until after I have submitted the 90,000 words. As of this moment the manuscript is at 106,000 words so just a few to lose over the next ten days or so. Wish me luck, there could be some burning of midnight oil ahead. Will keep you all updated….
Yesterday during a canvassing visit to Norwich for the Liberal Democrats, Baroness Shirley Williams, Liberal Democrat Peer, was reunited with Joe Stirling. They last met 61 years ago during her first ever By-election as a Labour candidate. Joe, then Labour Agent for Norwich, was sent to help out the young 23 year old in her efforts to become an M.P. Shirley Williams has kindly written a foreword for Escaping Hitler: A Jewish Boy’s Quest for Freedom and His Future, the biography of Joe Stirling, written by Phyllida Scrivens. This debut book will be published by Pen and Sword during January 2016.
This week I am travelling all around North America with Joe Stirling. As I write up the fascinating and detailed conversations with him as he shared memories of the twenty-one Lions Conventions he visited during the 1970s and 80s, not only as a colleague but also as travel arranger and guide, I feel I am in the great cities – San Francisco, Miami, Las Vegas, Mexico City. But I only have one photo to share, which will feature in the book, of Joe heading up the British contingent in the Grand Opening Parade in Montreal in the summer of 1979. As for my progress with Escaping Hitler: photos now back from the photoshop, all scanned onto a stick in high resolution, a good friend is preparing a family tree and a map is being designed at the publishers. I am up to over 76,000 words with six weeks to go. THIS WILL HAPPEN. It just needs some application and determination – no problem then!!
Joe and I shared a platform again this morning (no, not at Norwich station). We spoke together for the Norfolk Out and About Club (for over 55s) in the beautiful Methodist Church on Chaplefield in Norwich. There were no less than 85 members there – the biggest crowd I have yet spoken to – and each one hung on his every word as he described how he developed Stirling Holidays from 1955 onwards. I added in some stuff about meeting Joe, researching the book, finding a publisher in Pen and Sword Books and now completing the draft of the book. We had a lot of fun with the lovely people there, many of whom came up to Joe and me afterwards with stories from their past that connected with aspects of Joe’s life.
Oh, and when I got home there is an email from my publisher asking me to commit to a delivery date. I am prepared to go public on this – I have opted for 24th April. Wish me luck…..
On Monday evening, 2nd February 2015, Joe Stirling and I gave our first joint presentation to the Norwich branch of Soroptimists International, a global volunteer movement of women working together to transform the lives of women and girls. Despite the threat of snow and ice, about … Continue reading NORWICH SOROPTIMISTS CLUB
Have now received the signed contract from Pen and Sword Books. It is really happening! My debut book…. I now have 21 days to produce some blurb (technical term apparently!) for the back of the book, some biog about myself and some ideas for the cover including old original photos. After that it is the long write up to my deadline of end March plus loads more lovely people to interview. If you are interested take a look at my publishers website at: