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Lowestoft Evacuees

PUBLISHED: 11:09 04 September 2009 | UPDATED: 11:53 06 July 2010

THE association has experienced mixed fortunes over the past two weeks. Last week a party of nine travelled by minibus to spend three days and nights at Glossop, Derbyshire dropping two others off at Barlborough where they stayed to meet up with friends and at Chesterfield and Clowne, whilst the main party went on over the High Peak to Glossop.

THE association has experienced mixed fortunes over the past two weeks. Last week a party of nine travelled by minibus to spend three days and nights at Glossop, Derbyshire dropping two others off at Barlborough where they stayed to meet up with friends and at Chesterfield and Clowne, whilst the main party went on over the High Peak to Glossop. Many former school-friends, some who had not met for many decades, came over to the Norfolk Arms Hotel for the first day to enjoy a Lowestoft and Glossop reunion gathering of former school-friends in this former cotton mill town. Time was enjoyed in the locality by people opting to visit the Roman Fort of Valendra on the Gamesley estate, a run up the Nab in the evening, and visits to Ashley market by bus, to Manchester by train and to the Peak District plague village of Eyam by car and evening restaurant meals at the George and the Norfolk Arms Hotels. The return journey via Snake Pass and over Hathersage Edge to the Sheffield moors back to Barlborough to pick up the two staying there, ended with a visit for coffee to the new vastly improved visitor centre at Creswell Crags and thence back to East Anglia. This week was the long planned trip to the commemorative service held at St. Paul's Cathedral, London, eagerly looked forward to on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the first evacuation of the world war two on September 1 1939. Alas disaster struck as the coach hired from a Norfolk firm to begin its journey at Norwich at 5.30am with detailed plans worked out and agreed to pick up also at Lowestoft, Kessingland and Ipswich, did not turn up. After an hour of deliberations by mobile phones, it was reluctantly decided that it would be too late to wait for it by then as the group had to be in their seats by 10.45am and with driver's break time to be added in, the coach could not get there in time. Those waiting at Lowestoft and further afield were visited and told of the situation by committee members Derek and Chris. Thirteen of the original coach party of 43 were determined to travel come what may and managed to go by train or car at great personal expense and effort on their part. With others who had travelled independently anyway, 18 people represented Lowestoft Evacuees at the uplifting and poignant service. At least two Lowestoft evacuees were interviewed after the event, one for local London Radio station and one for BBC TV, and the chairman managed to obtain the autograph of Michael Aspel on the service booklet, expressing good luck to Chris and Co. for the future! Unfortunately it had not been a lucky day for the Lowestoft Association as most of the original party were deeply disappointed and not a little hurt at not being able to attend, as they were relying on comfortable transport to get them to the site of St Paul's to their own special occasion. Subsequent investigations and discussions with the coach firm have revealed a sorry tale of sickness and when a cover driver eventually turned up with a coach at the Norwich starting point he found no-one there as they had gone by taxi en-bloc to Thorpe Station where two of them caught a train to London while the other three were still buying their tickets and had to catch the next train. Discussions with the firm continue regarding some financial recompense for this sad occurrence though nothing can be done to bring back an exceptional happy memory for those who missed it, of this great national occasion, except to listen to the tales of those who eventually made it!

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