Second World War evacuees from far and wide gather for reunion

Around 40 people attended the annual Lowestoft evacutation summer reunion. Picture: Chris Brooks

Around 40 people attended the annual Lowestoft evacutation summer reunion. Picture: Chris Brooks - Credit: Archant

Around 40 people attended a reunion that brings together Second World War evacuees.

Around 40 people attended the annual Lowestoft evacutation summer reunion. Picture: Chris Brooks

Around 40 people attended the annual Lowestoft evacutation summer reunion. Picture: Chris Brooks - Credit: Archant

The 78th anniversary of the Lowestoft Evacuation proved to be an enjoyable, relaxed get together of friends old and new.

Chairman Brian Baxter welcomed attendeees from Norwich, Richard Pye from Wymondham, Clive Capps from Cromer, Peter and Sheila Glover, on holiday here from Southport, Lancashire and Neil Williams from Glossop, Derbyshire to the annual summer reunion.

The Deputy Mayor of Lowestoft Town Council, Peter Knight, also welcomed everyone including the visitors to the town and said how important it is to celebrate these occasions together as it is a living witness to Lowestoft's history.

During the roll call by Secretary Chris Brooks, of schools attended in evacuation, absent friends were recalled and remembered, some like Owen Draper and Iris West who had sadly passed away during the year.

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Owen's widow Mary paid thanks to all who sent her cards and supported her after Owen's death. Some members are now residing in care homes like Iris Day and Derek Aldred.

The secretary paid tribute to Derek and his work by exhibiting his photo albums and playing DVDs. Some members have had recent surgery like Trudy James so hope to attend next time. Some members inspecting the albums saw pictures of themselves for the first time and Chris can supply these to members if they get in touch.

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Treasurer Mary Draper gave the financial report which showed that with the generous donation of £800 from Peter and Sheila Glover and their friends on the occasion of their 65th Wedding Anniversary last February, we now had a balance of £975 to 'invest' in our future events.

During a brief AGM election item, committee members Brian, Mary and Chris were elected unopposed to continue in office for a further year. Sadly, Vice-chairman Derek Aldred was unable to continue his position due to ill health but there were no other nominations so it was agreed the committee would work without a vice-chairman this year.

Two future part subsidised events were taken up:

21 booked for a Carvery Meal at the Wherry Hotel on Thursday, June 7, the main course funded by the Association.

15 booked for a four day/three nights minbus tour of Derbyshire, visiting en route the National Memorial Arboretum to see the British Evacuees Memorial completed last year. A free day for members, a tour of Derbyshire Well-Dressing villages and beauty spots is planned as well as a visit to the East Derbyshire ex Mining villages of Barlborough, Whitwell, Clowne, Shirebrook and Cresswell, where many Lowestoft schoolchildren lived in evacuation. The minibus travel is funded by the Association whilst members pay for their accomodation and meals.

The speaker was Neil Williams, Chairman of the 'Friends of Glossop Station' (FOGS) community group whose aim he explained was to enhance the surroundings of Glossop Station by Poetic and Artistic imagery and to provide an ongoing sense of local history to the younger generations.

Last year they had arranged a major event on June 2 to commemorate the arrival of the Lowestoft evacuees in Glossop in 1940 at which several ex evacuees from Lowestoft participated in their annual visit to Derbyshire. Plaques were unveiled on Glossop station by Lowestoft evacuees Brian Howard and Alma Mingay, and Kathleen Barber's poem was the centrepiece of their visual display last year, a copy of which was donated to the Lowestoft committee and is now displayed at the Lowestoft reunions.

During the year FOGS commissioned a permanent display plaque for their station and a second one for Lowestoft, which Neil presented to the Lowestoft Committee today after his talk.

Chairman Brian Baxter thanked him for this wonderful surprise and Secretary Chris Brooks asked Councillor Peter Knight to support the idea of this plaque being displayed at Lowestoft Station initially in the ticket hall, so linking the history between the two towns in full public view.

Mr Knight expressed the hope that the railway authorities would gladly accept the idea. Neil commented on the slideshow pics that he and Chris had taken last year.

Members then enjoyed a tasty buffet lunch prepared by Chris and Janet Brooks, after which the raffle was conducted in aid of funds with many prizes donated by the members present.

Due to this once again the reunion made a modest surplus after expenses were paid raising the total funds to around four figures! Clive Capps, from Cromer, a past Secretary of the Association, gave the committee a sincere vote of thanks for continuing the activity and he hoped they would take us all through to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Lowestoft evacuation at the 2020 reunion.

Chris Brooks

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