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Tony Foulds' fly-past captures human spirit - unlike Shamila Begum


By Spalding Today Columnist


Having just about survived the past month - the 2019 February one - relatively unscathed, depending on how you like your unscathed that is, when compared to last year’s effort towards the end of that February that involved ‘Olga from the Volga’ or as she was better known by her stage name of the ‘Beast from the East’ when the best part of the country was affected by Artic conditions that got those banging on about supposed/alleged ‘green house effect’ twined with ‘global warming’ in bit of a lather, in not knowing which way to justify how said Olga fitted into their plans.

This past one was quite surprising for the time of the year, as temperatures soared upwards and we basked in sunshine normally kept in reserve for the Bahamas.

However, the month itself seems to have gone from one extreme to another, as what passed for news or happenings depending on various factors, such as the ongoing half-time scores regarding the here to infinity Brexit raffle with daily/hourly ‘updates’ of assorted deals such as ‘buy one and get another if you’re lucky’ being sorted out, with folk marginally involved or part of the assorted team players/reserves apparently throwing a wobbly, resigning this, that but not the other, with more supposed deals on offer than a back street used car dealership.

John Ward (7507807)
John Ward (7507807)

While I have been scribbling this, in the background the radio is playing Uncle Bert Humperdinck’s ‘The Last Waltz’ - as in a record from years ago - and the irony of the words he is singing would fit well into the above Brexy malarkey – worth a listen to it and see the similarities to the real life ‘drama’ being played out for our supposed benefit - as the intro of “I wondered should I go or should I stay, the band had only one more song to play” takes on a whole new meaning.

Then daily updates about somebody called Megan, who is expecting a child, if the low key rumours are owt to go by that clashed many a minute or hour with the above Brexit thingamajig but at least with Megan we should get a straight forward result as in it will be either a boy or a child but the one thing that both events have in common is the media are more engaged in telling us what the key players are wearing, how much they cost and where from and to think we moan about the constant adverts on the flat screen wonder.

On a sane level, I recently spoke with Albert, a friend's dad now in his nineties, who is still very active in mind (and nearly body, he says) who said he wondered why he bothered ‘hanging on so long’ (!) as the world has - quote: ‘gorn mad, boy, gorn completely mad’ - at least he’s honest and straightforward.

Albert is an ‘old solder’ - the last time he was on mainland Europe, people were shooting at him and his pals to stop them being there. Many of ‘his lot’ did not come back and he pondered about their loss and the current Brexit malarkey and is not sure how they would see it - if they were still about.

His current rant or concern is about the young girl who fled this country to (allegedly) join up with some terrorist outfit but after a few years among them, has changed her mind (like you do) and wants to come back here as if nothing had happened (allegedly) but has now become a pawn in a political and media circus that also seems to be going on as long as the Brexy thing - or it will do with the legal profession doing well out of it as usual - but the eventual outcome perhaps won’t come as much surprise, as the free-range ‘do-gooders’ and ‘human rights’ brigade leap up and down, although the ‘rights’ of the victims never get a mention as no doubt the person here will get a serialised ‘life story’ in the usual Sunday papers etc and treated as some form of celebrity in the process.

At the same age she ran away to ‘join up’, he would have been trying to get a baker's boy delivery job with a bike with a basket on to earn some pocket money, as opposed to wanting to travel thousands of miles to join up with an organisation set to kill or suppress innocent human beings going about their business.

Albert wondered quite what his long lost pals would have thought about it all, more so as they didn’t have the option of a ‘coming back, all is forgiven’ option. Just how many more of these people are waiting to ‘come back’ as if nothing has happened? He thought there was one word missing from it all - treason - plain and simple.

Amid all this utter madness was something we both agreed on that was indeed something really uplifting, with a gentleman called Tony Foulds, who was in the media for the right reasons perhaps you may be aware of - but if not, these are the basics.

During the war, Tony was seven when a much-damaged American B17 Flying Fortress bomber returning from a raid made a choice to avoid coming in to land on a park where Tony and his friends were playing at the time. The crew diverted and crashed into woods to avoid hitting them - with all ten crewmen on board being killed.

Since then, Tony has taken the time on most days or whenever possible, to attend and keep the memorial to them in Sheffield’s Endcliffe Park in good order, as he feels he owes them something, as without their brave, unselfish actions, he would not be here today.

During a chance encounter, he mentioned his reasons why to Dan Walker, a BBC Breakfast presenter, who was walking his dog in the park, and that this past February 22 marked the 75th anniversary of their sacrifice and Dan was so taken by Tony’s devotion that word spread worldwide. On the day, more than 15,000 people were in attendance to witness a joint American and RAF flypast in honour of that fateful day, when ten airmen gave their lives so that a group of schoolchildren could live.

It sounds the stuff of a Hollywood film and may well turn out that way, but this was for real.

Contrast this against the actions of a 19-year-old woman who was, it's been quoted, unmoved at seeing assorted atrocities and assumed that was quite okay.

It’s the likes of Tony Foulds who restore faith in the real, human condition - who feels he owes a huge thank you to people he never met for their unselfish actions which allowed him and his chums to have a life at the cost of their own.

As Albert said, if there was anything to typify the English spirit of fair play, care and decency in this day and age, it’s Tony Foulds. He thinks his pals would be in agreement but they never got the chance to ‘come back’ sadly.

Meanwhile, Albert waits for real news to come our way, such as a footballer’s new tattoo being unveiled to a waiting public.



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