As in Part One, I’ve summarised a number of stories without comment.
Heinrich Steinmeyer left £384,000 in his will to the people of the village of Conrie in Perthshire, Scotland. Steinmeyer was captured in France in 1944 and was detained in a POW camp near Conrie until his release after the end of the Second World War. He returned to Conrie several times after the war and made life-long friendships. Steinmeyer died in 2014, aged 90; his ashes were scattered on the hills above the site of the camp.
It has taken two years to expedite the wishes expressed in Steinmeyer’s will. His legacy has been donated to the village’s community trust and will be spent on local development for the elderly.
The local newspaper quotes that the will reads: I would like to express my gratitude to the people of Scotland for the kindness and generosity that I have experienced in Scotland during my imprisonment.
Apparently some of the local children smuggled Steinmeyer out of the camp in a borrowed school uniform so that he could go to the cinema and see his very first film. This foolhardy act of kindness was the beginning of Steinmeyer’s affection for the people of the village.
There was a nice photograph of Lionel Messi holding Murtaza, a six-year old Afghan boy. Murtaza became an Internet sensation when he was photographed wearing a replica Messi shirt made out of a plastic bag. Murtaza was tracked down and he and his hero were brought together.
A photograph on page 4 shows George Clooney with his arm round the shoulder of longtime fan Pat Adams on the occasion of her 87th birthday. Mr. Clooney dropped in to Pat’s retirement home near Reading and brought a card and flowers for Pat.
Dr. David Goodall, Australia oldest scientist, will be permitted to keep his office at Edith Cowan university in Perth, Australia, reversing a decision that would have forced him to work from home. Dr. Goodall, 102 years of age, was told by the university that he was a health risk because of his lengthy journey to work using public transport. Following an international uproar about the treatment of elderly workers, the university has offered Dr. Goodall an office at a branch of the main campus nearer his home.
Dr. Goodall’s career in ecology spans over 70 years. “I hope to continue with some useful work in my field in so far as my eyesight permits,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Company after the decision was reversed.
A memorial bench keeps alive the memory of a loved one: they can be seen frequently on footpaths around our coastline. One such bench reads:
In memory of Archie Thomas, 1969-1985. He loved this place.
The place is Port Isasc, a fishing village in Cornwall, made well known as Portwenn to TV viewers of the ITV drama Doc Martin. Archie’s family lived in Worcestershire, but spent many holidays in Port Isaac.
Archie died three weeks before his 16th birthday and his memorial bench graced the little harbour of Port Isasc for 31 years. Then, in December last year, a heavy storm battered the harbour and several benches, fishing tackle, and lobster pots were washed out to sea. That seemed to be the end for Archie’s bench.
On New Year’s day, Kathryn Challis was walking her dog on Saunton Sands in Devon, about 60 miles up the coast from Port Isaac, when she found Archie’s bench. Kathryn shared images of it on Facebook and eventually the story of the bench reached the local press in Worcester and the eyes and ears of Archie’s father, Michael. (Archie’s mother, Anne, died in 1999).
Archie’s bench has been reinstated on the harbour at Port Isaac. “He’s sending us a message,” said Emily, Archie’s sister. “He’s saying ‘don’t forget about me’.”
The centrepiece of the second page of the article is a photograph of Archie’s father and sister sitting on the bench on the harbour.
A synagogue in Streatham, south London, is planning to raise funds to convert part of its premises to accommodate a refugee family from Syria.
“This is a very personal issue for a lot of our members,” said Alice Alphandary, the chair of the synagogue. “ … we, as Jews, have benefited from sanctuary in the past … now we want to repay that welcome to a new generation.”
Five people live in the home of 56-year old Mary-Stuart Miller in Rome. Ms. Miller, from Essex, has been working with homeless and destitute people of Rome since 2013. What started with cooking dozens of meals in her kitchen at home rapidly escalated into feeding hundreds of people nightly.
Everyone who lives in her house, including Steve Barnes, a 38-year old chef, back on his feet after seven years living rough in Rome, helps out with the project.
This story, with its happy outcome for one particular family, is told against the backdrop of tragedy for many others.
The family of Giampiero Parete were on holiday in a ski resort in the mountains to the east of Rome when their hotel was struck by a powerful avalanche that trapped all but two of the guests and staff inside the building. Giampiero was one of the two: moments before the avalanche struck, he went to his car to retrieve something, leaving his wife and their two children inside the hotel.
Twenty-four hours later, rescuers had dug through a two-metre wall of snow to reach what was left of the engulfed hotel, without much hope of finding anyone alive inside.
After several more hours of digging, Perete’s wife and children were dug out of the snow and rubble, along with six more survivors.
At the time of going to press, no further survivors had been found.
I can’t find the article, which I thought I had cut out of Good Housekeeping. A search of the magazine’s website didn’t turn it up but a Google search found the story on a website called tickld: there is no source quoted so I do hope that the story isn’t an urban myth or fake news.
A father and son checked into a hotel: the father wanted to give his son a break before he underwent surgery: the boy was seriously ill, perhaps terminally.
After their evening meal, the father asked to see the manager. Thinking that there might be a problem with their room or with their meal, the manager called the father into his office. The father explained about his son’s illness and impending surgery, which would result in the loss of the boy’s hair. Consequently, his son would shave his head before breakfast the next morning rather than lose his hair as a result of surgery. The father merely wanted the manager to warn the staff that his son would look very different the next morning, in the hope that such a warming meant that the restaurant staff would not be taken by surprise and behave normally and respectfully. The father also planned to shave his head in support of his son. The manager assured the father that he would alert staff to the situation.
The following morning, father and son entered the restaurant for breakfast. All four male members of staff on breakfast duty were going about their business as normal with shaved heads.
This is the only story in this post that I can’t help summarising without making a comment: what a wonderful story, I do so hope that it is true.
I stopped cutting out similar stories around the time of Part One of this blog. I’m not suggesting that such heart-warming and uplifting stories are not out there, it’s merely that I haven’t been actively looking for them. I’m sure that if one looks hard enough, stories about remarkable people and events are there, waiting to be found.
No coward soul is mine,
No trembler in the world’s storm-troubled sphere:
I see Heaven’s glories shine,
And faith shines equal, arming me from fear.