Six local Scouts from Beeston and the surrounding areas have been chosen to represent South West Nottinghamshire District at the 24th World Scout Jamboree in America during the summer of 2019.
The World Scout Jamboree is an international gathering of Scouts held every 4 years. Nearly 100 years ago the first jamboree was held in London in 1920 and was attended by 8,000 Scouts. The number expected to attend in 2019 has increased to over 40 000 Scouts who will be joined by many day visitors from the US.
These activities are intended to give participants an opportunity to learn new things and to build new friendships.
In West Virginia, Scouts from over 168 other countries will take part in a wide range of activities over the 12 days, including aerial and water sports, climbing and shooting. They will be given the opportunity to participate in unique programs to learn about different cultures, sustainability, peace and community service. These activities are intended to give participants an opportunity to learn new things and to build new friendships.
They meet once a month with their unit (a group of 40 leaders and scouts) to discuss their plan for the trip and get prepared for all the opportunities and experiences it will offer. This includes becoming accustomed to the cultures of many other countries, thinking about travel and being aware of the heat and therefore their health. But probably most importantly getting to know each other within the group as before the selection process they had never even met before!
The Scouts have been raising money in order to fund their going to the jamboree and to support the funding of Scouts from less affluent countries- a grand total of £3595 each! Amongst other things collectively they have done bag packing, organised beetle drives, a ceilidh and a Caribbean evening. Individually the participants have also been raising money by holding cake sales, afternoon teas and sponsored events like a sponsored paddle-board.
(If you can support in anyway please contact Susan on 07887895976).
It’s 8pm on a Thursday and four of my friends are stood in front of a closed Waterstones while I jog up and down the side of the building, losing a game of charades with the oblivious bookseller inside.
Twenty minutes later we are finally inside the Sillitoe Room, listening to a spectacular line up of poets here to support the main talent of the night: Chris McLoughlin and the launch of Lose Your Armour. Published through Nottingham’s indie Big White Shed, this 12-strong-poem chapbook reads like an open letter to those drowning in emotional struggle.
‘Dust Days’, which was performed in full at the launch, documents fourteen individual days or nights that begin with hedonistic behaviour and descends into helplessness and the deep pit of depression many of us have clawed our way out of. In particular, ‘Day 34’ is one run-on sentence of a disassociation episode in the Victoria Centre, before McLoughlin turns his attention to the reader, asking ‘Are you entertained now?’ The change of pace and directive almost makes me feel guilty for enjoying how expressive the bleakness is.
As a reader, you want to hug the persona. As someone who suffers from mental health, you nod and continue to read. Back in the Sillitoe Room, I glance down the aisle of seats in the middle of Chris’s set to see friends faces full of sadness, awe, but most importantly, inspiration. Lose Your Armour screams, ‘if I can get through this, let my words help you get through yours’.
If you’re reading this, you *probably* live in Beeston (although if you read the rest of this issue, you’ll find that’s not always the case). But, for those of you who live the majority of your life in this town, you’ll no doubt have thoughts and opinions of what you’d like the future of Beeston to hold. After all, this is the place we call home, it’s pretty important.
So if you’re a budding blogger, willing writer and far-sighted futurist as well as a proud Beestonian, you could see your name in print as part of a competition to write the next chapter in the rich history of Beeston.
To celebrate their 120th anniversary, the family owned, family run business CP Walker & Son commissioned local historian and writer David Hallam to help them to tell and celebrate the story of Beeston over the period 1896-2016. The book is organised with chapters covering each decade from the 1890s to the 2010s. Now, having chartered the history of Beeston, Rex and Dan Walker have created this competition to look at how the town might develop in the 2020s.
As Rex explains, “We are keen supporters of community projects and initiatives that benefit the local population. Our book charts the ups and indeed the downs that Beeston has faced during its history. However, we then thought, what happens next? We were chatting about the future of the town with the various developments going on and realised there’s a whole new chapter to write, perhaps even a couple. Who better to write them than local people like us who love their town? That’s where the competition idea came from.”
He continues: “Lots of people make New Year Resolutions to start writing or to rekindle their hobby, but getting published is too often out of reach. This a chance for people to share their ideas and their love for Beeston and to start a debate that will play a part in forming the next chapter of our town’s tale, perhaps even the next century.”
If reading this has got your brain stirring with thoughts of what the future could hold or how you could implement your brilliant vision on the town, and you’re just itching to get writing, then here’s what you need to know before you put pen to paper:
The competition is open to anyone with three age categories: Primary School, Secondary school and 16 plus.
There’s no word limit per se, but you’re advised to try and stick to around 1000 words maximum if possible.
Try and look to the future with a positive outlook, write something to stir the imagination and get people thinking about what comes next and how it can happen (We’re not talking pipe dreams here!)
Entries will be judged by an independent panel of local people, chaired by Rex Walker and featuring Editor in Chief of The Beestonian Matt Turpin, Phillipa Dytham-Double from Double Image Photography and David Hallam, author of ‘The Story of Beeston’.
This is a fantastic opportunity, so once you’ve extracted all the inspiration possible from reading the rest of this issue, get your future-thinking in gear, because you never know what it might lead to. Good luck, Beestonians!
A famous Nottingham company that most people will know is Raleigh, who evolved and popularised the bicycle. Frank Bowden founded Raleigh in 1888, after acquiring a small cycle making workshop in Raleigh Street. By 1896 Raleigh was the largest cycle manufacturer in the world with bikes produced at their much missed factory in Lenton, made famous of course through the Sillitoe novel ‘Saturday Night, Sunday Morning’. Frank’s son Harold took over the business in 1921 and for a time lived at the manor house at Beeston Fields, now the golf club. Sadly the company folded in the late 1980s, and the site cleared for Nottingham University’s Jubilee Campus.
Beeston of course had it’s own bicycle factory, the Humber Works, formed by Thomas Humber in 1878. They also branched out into making motorbikes and cars. In 1932 Humber sold their cycle patents to Raleigh, with Humber Cars ceasing trading in 1967.
Like a lot of people then, we were quite poor, so I used to make up bikes from old parts.
Unlike cars, bicycles don’t seem to attract the same level of fascination. Maybe people view bikes as just being two wheels and a saddle. Fortunately there’s one man in Beeston that’s doing his best to preserve the history of the humble pushbike. I first met Paul Page last January, when he appeared as an ‘I Am Beeston’ subject. During our chat, I discovered his passion for bicycles and preserving their history. Paul recently invited me to his house to see his collection of bikes and memorabilia. Arriving, I noticed an old, rusty bike propped up by a garden shed. “This is a 1904 Sunbeam safety cycle,” enthused Paul. “Introduced to replace penny-farthings. Hence ‘safety cycle’”. Inside his large workshop, were many bike frames hanging up, waiting to be assessed. He has around 14 musette bags. These are small logoed bags that riders use to carry tools and food. Of course there’s one with Sid Standard’s name on it. I had to ask him if he had met Beeston’s cycling legend. “Sadly not. I think he died before we came to live in Beeston. But I do have one of his bikes, a 1984 Superbe 541 that was built by Peter Riches”.
Rows of bikes, many ridden by famous cyclists, boxes full of memorabilia, and of course the obligatory Christmas tree fight for space in the spacious loft. Paul directs me to what looks like an old army bike. “This is a prototype Raleigh military bike from 1943. 50 were made, but only 6 survive. I think this is the only unrestored one. It was so over engineered, that it wasn’t taken up”. Paul then shines a light into a corner, where an old trike sits. “This was raced by David Duffield in 1962, when he went from Lands End to John O’Groats”. I ask Paul what made him interested in cycling. “I used to cycle as a kid. Like a lot of people then, we were quite poor, so I used to make up bikes from old parts. My dad rode a Hetchins bike. Would love to have one of them in the collection. I’d also like something from Beeston’s Cycling Club, and a Raleigh jersey. Talking of Raleigh, I’m really keen to own something from their Specialist Products Division. With so many local people working for Raleigh, someone must have something lurking in their garage”.
I was curious to know how Paul increases his collection. “It tends to be word of mouth. I also run an advert in Cycling Weekly. These bikes were designed to be used, and I try to make them road worthy. My wife Penny is a keen cyclist. We’ve ridden all over Europe. Sadly our children don’t share our enthusiasm, and will probably chuck the lot away when we go”. Back in Paul’s ‘man cave’, he shows me an old advertising sign for the Heart of the Midlands, now Rock City. “Something else I’ve saved from landfill”.
Paul obtained an ordinary looking gents Raleigh Popular bike in November, but it has a mystery attached to it. Purchased in Cardiff by David Thomas on 13th July 1935. Around the 11th February 1937, David disappeared. The bike had remained with the family until Paul purchased it. No one knows what happened to David. He was interested in ships, so may have gone to sea, losing his life during WW2. Or he just fancied doing a ‘Reggie Perrin’ and becoming something more exciting than an accounts clerk.
Paul has a truly wonderful collection of cycling history and it’s a great shame that more don’t have the opportunity of seeing it. Beeston therefore needs a ‘museum of cycling’, so that Paul’s collection can be displayed properly.
If anyone has anything to do with vintage cycling that they’d like to offer Paul, then please get in touch through the Beestonian’s Facebook page. Of course if anyone can offer a large space that would be suitable for a museum, then we’d really love to hear from you too.
Coffee shops and Beeston have become synonymous over the last few years. It’s become a caffeine-lovers hotspot, and although some grumps seem to think this is a negative most Beestonians recognise it as a sign of a strong town: if enough local, largely-independent businesses can survive on the disposable incomes of residents, we’re doing alright.
Hipsters and their caffeinated contemporaries would be shocked to know that just a mere 20 years ago, a cappuccino was as exotic as it’d get and the default coffee was a cup of bitter Nescafe. The café that ushered in this new era back in the late nineties was The Bean. To mark 20 years of excellence, we talked to owner Alex Bitsios-Esposito to find 20 facts about the shop that started it all…
The Bean was set up by Silvana, a Canadian Italian who moved here in the nineties. Her son Alex explains “There just wasn’t anywhere in the town to get a decent coffee. Italy and Canada both have developed coffee-cultures, so she took a gamble.”
Beestonians were initially cautious, but curious. “The idea of a coffee shop being a social meeting point wasn’t really there, and took time.”
Alex was just 8 years old when he started helping out. “I’d take orders, do bits and bobs. I could barely reach the till.”
It swiftly gained accolades: in 1999 it won a national survey of coffee shops.
It was unprecedented in carefully selecting its coffee: “Mass produced coffees tasted burnt – we wanted to show off the vast range of flavours and subtleties.”
Back then, it was a Cyber Coffee (readers under 30: ask an older person). People would queue to pay £3.50 per hour to tediously wait for a message board about Star Trek to refresh on Windows 98, and sip on their Latte thinking they were living in the future.
“We still get people a bit confused, and asking what the wiffy is and why its free.”
As it grew in popularity, more coffee shops opened up to cope with the demand. We currently have around 12, mostly independent. Do Beestonians sleep?
Alex is a fan of these other coffee shops. “They’ve created a healthy competition, keeping us on our toes to innovate.”
Handily for our international issue, they’ve always been one of the most global of employers. Alex: “Spanish, Turkish, German, Czech, Chinese, Ghanaian, Australian, Vietnamese, Latvian, New Zealanders…and many more.”
Many people met their partners here, not least Alex, whose wife used The Bean as a place to write a book. Staff have married other staff; customers have married other customers.”
He’d be able to retire if he’d taken a commission on all these couplings…
They became the first café in Beeston to be part of the Suspended Coffee programme: customers can buy a coffee for those less fortunate than them, and those who can’t afford a drink for whatever reasons can receive one, no questions asked. Nice.
It has a city-centre sister shop, Cartwheel: “It’s less of a community place, being located there, a different buzz.”
One fan is the superstar author Jon McGregor, who voted it one of his cultural highlights in an article for the Guardian.
Quite cheeky considering he’d just won the Costa award, if you think about it.
Other famous Cartwheelers are Dylan Moran and Ronan Keating: “he had a juice.”
The Bean, and many other cafes and pubs, seems to be the de facto office of The Beestonian. If you’re reading this in one of those places and see a harassed looking chap bashing away at his keyboard while muttering to himself, you’re probably watching the next issue in progress.
Alex took over as owner in 2018. With two young kids and one on the way, is this a start of a dynasty in Beeston? “When they can reach the till.”
Favourite drink? “Same as my mum: straight espresso.” When I look disappointed, he replies, “It’s a perennial classic”. As The Bean moves into its third decade hepping-up Beeston, it’s a description that serves that corner of Stoney Street well.
I first learned of The DoughMother, about a month ago, when Mr U presented me with a white paper bag containing a couple of still warm sourdough baguettes and a fruit syrup glazed koulouri which was nothing short of divine!
Baked goods have a way of invoking feelings of reassurance; of being hugged from the inside. We ate the baguettes with a bowl of homemade soup later, perfect! The creativity was evident, and so I had to find out more.
Baking is an experience we can all appreciate in a holistic way. Getting back in touch with all our senses, particularly our sense of smell, can revive happy memories of early childhood. Scent is the first way we recognised our mothers, and contributes to us feeling safe and loved. According to psychologist and columnist Linda Blair, who wrote an article extolling the virtues of The Great British Bake-Off, ‘the act of baking is a process, not a soundbite. It takes time to read a recipe, gather the ingredients, mix the dough, let it rise, shape it, and then bake what we’ve created.’ It’s how we humans are most comfortable operating, understanding what we are doing, step by step. It’s good for our wellbeing, and all this effort brings us great rewards.
…she had lived in various parts of Beeston and fell in love with the place. She liked the convenience of not having to go into the city to buy essentials and felt drawn to the town, ‘It had a good feeling.’
We have been back a couple of times since and it seems word has got out already in the neighbourhood about the artisan boulanger in the middle of Central Avenue. Each time we visit we are greeted with a generous welcome, Houlia tells me that they celebrated their two-month anniversary on New Year’s Day and already she and her partner Alican have attracted regular customers. Houlia is ‘The DoughMother.’ She is responsible for the warm scent of bread baking in the busy oven out back. The aroma alone is enough to entice you in, but they have more than delicious loaves on offer to tempt you. Alican is the maker of the sweeter treats. The koulouri is his speciality, but they also have a range of cakes and pastries in their antique glass cabinet. The flour they use for the breads is locally sourced, from Green’s Mill in Sneinton. They are proud of the space that they have built together and overwhelmed with the support they received from friends in bringing their dream to reality.
Using reclaimed bits and pieces, transported by supermarket trolley in the absence of a car, they have created a welcoming café space which encourages you to stay, have a coffee, read a book or just enjoy the eclectic mix of music playing in the background. It is an honest place where everyone is welcome. Alichan tells me about their plans to develop the secure back yard into an area where children can play safely, whilst their parents enjoy a coffee and a catch up with a friend. Houlia tells me how the whole idea for The DoughMother came about and why she chose this area: she tells me that since moving from a small island in Greece to Nottingham in 2011 to study for a Biology Masters, and then her PhD, she had lived in various parts of Beeston and fell in love with the place. She liked the convenience of not having to go into the city to buy essentials and felt drawn to the town, ‘It had a good feeling.’
Living close to Central Avenue, she noticed that lack of opportunities for locals to buy the wholesome, home-cooked food that would have been available in her home town, and how important this experience is to communities. Both she and Alichan talked of the alienation that is occurring in society and how providing spaces like The DoughMother is encouraging people to come out of their homes in search of nourishment after a busy working day, to enjoy a bit of escape from that in a space that breathes a nurturing warmth into their lives. It’s a place to meet friends, enjoy community and celebrate the very basic nourishment of life, eating together.
I look around and appreciate the emblems of a simple life: a wire basket of milk bottles reminds me of Mr Jeffries, our copper-topped milkman, who dropped off our daily pint as we still slumbered, and came around cheerily on a Friday afternoon for his milk money. There are accents of nature, lush greenery against the soft tangerine walls, and the mismatched furniture harks back to a time when things were built to last.
If you haven’t discovered this little gem yet, then you really should pay them a visit. You can’t miss the clever signage, designed by Houlia herself, thankfully you won’t find any Mafiosi drinking the Greek coffee and beating you to the pastries.
With an initial concept of bringing the latest short films to screen in the East Midlands crafted by a variety of innovative filmmakers, Beeston Film Festival is now in it its fifth year and hosting entries from across the globe.
The festival has earned a title of being the biggest international short film festivals in the Midlands, as its submissions have increased by 68% from over 50 countries across every continent of the globe.
John Currie, the film festival Director, and his team of over 20 local Beestonians and global jury of 18 film industry professionals from the UK, America, France. Belgium, India, South Africa and Taiwan, make up its unique programming team.
As part of the pre-festival warm up, the Berliner will screen a great night of classics on Wednesday 13th of February, showing favourites from previous festivals such as The Stomach and The App.
Returning to Café Roya, where the festival launched five years ago, a second warm up showcases Iranian films on Sunday 24th February. Roya will provide some Persian cuisine and the programme includes B’Oscar winner, 1001 Teardrops.
The festival itself begins on Wednesday 13th of March at its first warm up location, The Berliner, running for a period of five days in its four different venues across Beeston town, making it its biggest and brightest film festival ever.
This year the festival continues to expand and has introduced their newest category, Better Place; inspiring filmmakers to create either Fiction or Non-Fiction Films aiming to drive a change in the world we live in, champion causes, influence prevailing attitudes and moving the world to a better place.
Not only is Beeston Film Festival presenting a new category this year, the iconic B’Oscar will be revamped and is under development from Beeston glass artist Becs Cass.
The renowned international festival has been rated gold as well as being placed in the Top 100 of Best Reviewed Festivals on FilmFreeway that showcases over 6000 festivals world-wide.
The reviews are from filmmakers involved and guests of the festival and reflect the welcome from the Beeston community.
One review by Judson Vaughan says this: “Just great! What else can I say, just a breath of fresh air! The organisers are true film/indie film lovers that are fair, impartial and committed to the filmmakers. Great communication, great fun and if you get the chance to meet John, then what a bonus! This is our second film to be screened at Beeston and we’ll be back! Thank You John, James and everyone involved.”
As final entries are being selected, it would be a shame to miss out on celebrating film and filmmakers from across the globe showcasing their creative arts at the Beeston Film Festival this year.
A local radio station ran a piece recently on whether not children spend too much time looking at screens and not enough time playing outside, getting ruddy-cheeked and grass-stained.
Their experts (a grandma from Sandiacre and a bloke called Tony who doesn’t have kids) were in fiery agreement, that kids these days are indeed a lazy bunch of lounge-lizards, content only when 15 million megapixels are shining directly into their retinas, content never to leave their child-caves lest they catch a lethal dose of vitamin D waddling to the car for the school run. They are an obese, entitled generation of layabouts who were given phones at birth and wouldn’t hesitate to outbid your Nan on eBay.
WELL. I had some THOUGHTS. Yes, Tony, my daughter can code an entire computer game from scratch and edit homemade animation which she casts to our xBox from my laptop. She can also do her times tables, knows the rules of chess and can bake cupcakes without a recipe. She does indeed play Minecraft after school, but she spends all summer camping around the UK while her dad and I perform at dozens of festivals. She is far better at learning about new technology than I am, and I’m writing this on Microsoft Word 93 so suck it Tony. You too, Sullen from Sandiacre.
My daughter is the generation you sighed about, and you compared her life to your own wistful childhoods full of good old rickets and rationing. Mind you, after Brexit we might have a small glimpse into those halcyon days when antibiotics are being sold for £100 a pop behind the bins at Tesco, so chin up. She’s also the generation which will be left to sort out the mistakes of mine and yours, and she’ll be using a computer to do it.
How about we all open our minds a little and look at what these fantastic advances mean to our children instead of attributing lazy stereotypes to a group of people you simply don’t know. You have no clue how clever our kids are, what a huge (and daunting, I’m not daft) place the internet is, and what brilliant things are out there to help kids learn and understand. Chill out Tony, the kids are alright.
Congratulations, some of you reading this have almost made it to the end of “Dry January.”
A whole month without booze, there’ll certainly be a celebration when it’s over. Not just for you, but for the rest of your family too. They’ve had to endure a month of your miserable face sulking round the house, looking at all that left-over festive booze and moaning about not being able to touch it.
I think the British have a real issue with alcohol. As a comedian I often have to walk through city centres late at night and it’s like Dawn of The Dead. There are couples screaming at each other, men trying to pick up their mates in an impromptu show of strength, people rocking back and forth in the kebab shop hypnotised by a spinning slab of meat. Then there’s little old me, sober as Mother Teresa, trying to make it back to my car with my flask and tuna sandwiches.
Us Brits can turn any event into an excuse for booze. Wedding? Have a drink. Funeral? Have a drink. Finished the decorating? Have a drink. I was in an airport recently. Now that’s where we really go for it. It’s like everyone is on some sort of perpetual stag weekend.
You never hear this conversation anywhere but in an airport:
“What time is it?”
“Ten to four in the morning”
“Fancy a pint?”
“Why not? We are on holiday!”
No, you’re not mate. You’ve gone nowhere. You’re still in the East Midlands. What are you doing?
Surely the last place you want to be hammered is at 36,000 feet in a glorified tin can. What if you are the passenger who has to lead everyone off the plane? You’ve been drinking since 4am, it took you an hour to open that packet of crisps, how are you going to cope with an emergency exit and an inflatable slide?
We don’t do this with other forms of transport. You don’t see anyone drinking cans of Kestral at 6am before getting on the 38 bus to Long Eaton? Well you do actually. Sorry that’s a bad example, but to be fair if I had to drive that bus route too, I’d have a drink.
I do most of my drinking under the radar. I don’t mean laid on the runway. I mean when I’m cooking. Specifically Sunday lunch. I love cooking and drinking. It’s amazing. It’s like normal boozing but instead of a hangover you’re left with a slow cooked lamb shoulder and seasonal vegetables. Occasionally you have to chase the last few drinks with a shot of Gaviscon, but that’s as bad as it gets. To the outside world you’re a diligent parent providing a meal for your family, however in reality you’re smashing your way through that drinks cabinet like a teenager whose parents have left them home alone.
My night out starts at 10am Sunday morning. As soon as Andrew Marr says goodbye, I pour a sneaky glass of wine and tell everyone to get out the kitchen; I need space to create. It’s just me, Amazon Alexa and Delia Smith.
By half twelve I’m naked from the waist up, body shiny with meat grease, dancing around on the lino floor like Mr Blonde in Reservoir Dogs, ripping chunks of off the roast with my bare hands. At this point my wife always comes in. “I thought you were cooking?” I shout back at her, “I am, I’m doing a red wine reduction, I started with a full bottle and now it’s nearly gone.”
I start to get overconfident, experimenting with flavours. “You know what this mash potato is lacking? Vanilla extract!” I’m pioneering flavour combinations even Heston Blumenthal would describe as “a bit much.”
My portion control is all over the place too. “How old is she? 3? I reckon she’d eat a kilo of mash.” The alcohol makes you fearless, you start taking things out of the oven with no gloves. I once ended up with the Tefal logo burnt into my palm like Joe Pesci in Home Alone.
By two, I’m in the euphoric stages of the cooking binge. Most of the week’s shop has gone, I’ve got some Brillo pads browning under the grill and I’ve fried off my rubber gloves in garlic. I’ve used every single pan too, so I’m now having to boil the sprouts in a wok.
I rarely remember the meal itself, but I always think it went well. I’m often laid on the sofa, nodding in and out of consciousness. Behind me I can just make out the sound of smoke alarms and pans being scraped into the bin. “At least he tries to cook,” says my wife to the starving children, dialling the number for Domino’s, “and I reckon he’s onto something with that vanilla mash.”
As those who regularly read the Beestonian will know, Beeston resides at the heart of the universe, and despite some failings, everyone enjoys living and working here.
But for some, they have found that the grass is actually greener on the other side, and so, as a twist to the ever popular ‘I Am Beeston’ interviews, we give you two examples of former Beestonians, who packed their suitcases and bought a one way ticket to a far off land.
Firstly let me introduce you to Keith Walker, who emigrated to New Zealand in the early 1960s’. “I was born in September 1932 in Chilwell, near School Lane, and remained in the area until I married in November 1959 and moved to Littleover, as I was working at Rolls Royce and my Cheshire born wife Marian was a radiographer at Derby Royal Infirmary. We decided that we wanted a better life and explored as many possibilities as possible. Canada? Too cold in winter. Rhodesia? It was the time of Ian Smith, just before it became Zimbabwe. So that was out. South Africa? They had recently left the Commonwealth and apartheid was starting, so no! Australia? Maybe. We also looked at New Zealand. It was difficult to get much information other than touristy stuff, which is all very well if you are going for a holiday, but we wanted information like the cost of shopping. It took us two years of filling forms, interviews, medicals etc, before we were accepted and given a sailing date for the six-week voyage to New Zealand on the Shaw Saville liner ‘Southern Cross’”.
“We arrived in Wellington on 19 Oct 1962. The government had paid for our passage and guaranteed employment. We went to Blenheim, a small town in the NE corner of the South Island. It is now a major wine producing area, but then it was all fruit growing. I worked for the Inland Revenue, and as a public servant, if you wanted to get on, you had to be prepared to move, and we did. After leaving Blenheim, we moved from place to place in the North Island eventually settling in Napier on the east coast. A lovely art deco city, which had been devastated in the earthquake of Feb 1931. Marian and I split up in 1976. I eventually remarried and moved to Taupo in 1981, on the NE corner of the North Island, and have been here since. Sadly that marriage ended too. Cameron, the eldest son of that marriage lives with me now”.
I enjoyed exploring the area, looking at where I was born and where I used to live.
“Moving to NZ was a bit of a culture shock. Weatherboarded houses with corrugated iron roofs. When we arrived the population was 2.5 million, now there are about 4.7 million. Was it a good move? Definitely. The best thing I did. NZ is a beautiful place. Our land mass is about one sixth larger than the UK. Very mountainous. We have a relaxed, laid back lifestyle. Apart from our major centres such as Auckland, towns are relatively small and miles apart. The nearest provincial city to Taupo is Rotorua, and is 50 miles away, with virtually nothing in between. Certainly these are the Shaky Isles. We have had several strong earthquakes in the last few years. Taupo is in the Taupo Volcanic Zone, a highly active geothermal area with very hot ground, and relatively frequent eruptions from the three central North Island volcanoes just south of the lake. Taupo is a holiday and tourist destination. But it’s nothing like Skegness! It is an adventure playground, with lots of energetic activities like skydiving on offer”.
“I volunteer at a local geothermal park called ‘Craters of the Moon’. About 9 or 10 years ago, a group of ‘Poms’ arrived. I asked them where they were from. One of them said ‘Nottingham’. After a few minutes I found out he was Dave Tacey from Chilwell, and had been involved in 1st C&A Scouts, just like me. That blew him away. We became very close friends. He had tried to get residency in NZ, but our immigration people decided we have enough accountants and so he moved to Llanbedr in Wales. He visited a few times and we kept in close contact until his death last April”.
“On Dave’s last trip, he spent a day with me recording my memories of my former life in Beeston. I lived with my mum and dad for 27 years, apart from my 3 years in the RAF. I have been in New Zealand now for over 56 years, and in Taupo for nearly 38. I came back to the UK once, for six weeks in 2001. I visited Beeston for a couple of days. I found the crowds especially in Nottingham very claustrophobic and I was homesick after a month. I enjoyed exploring the area, looking at where I was born and where I used to live. Dave spent several weeks in and around Beeston a few years ago looking for anyone from my time, but was unable to. Although I have contacted the parish church to see if they had anyone in their congregation with memories of those times, I’ve had no response”.
If you knew Keith, or fancy reminiscing about Beeston with him, then please contact us, and we will let him know.
Next is Amy Roberts, who currently resides in Reno, Nevada, but would love to return to Beeston. Unfortunately due to present UK immigration laws, she can’t. But more of that later. “I was born in the QMC in February 1985 and lived in Beeston until 2003, when I attended Manchester University. I fell in love with the city and its incredible music scene. However, Beeston’s siren song was strong and after I graduated, I headed home and started my first ‘real’ job. I lived happily in my wonderful hometown until August 2011, when I headed to Satsumasendai, a small city in semi-rural Japan. I lived there for two years, teaching English to high school students and having the most incredible experience of my life, which will stay with me forever”.
“I returned to Beeston in 2013, and there I remained until January 2016. You could call me the ‘Beeston Boomerang’. This time I headed west to be with my husband Andrus, whom I had met in 2013, whilst travelling in the States. I was working and lived with my parents. So, we made the very difficult decision that I would apply for a Green Card and move to the US so we could finally be together. This was incredibly hard for me, as all my family are in the UK, and I had a wonderful network of friends. But I accepted it, as naturally I wanted to be with Andrus. Unfortunately, it took 19 months to actually hold it in my hand, and was an extremely stressful process. By that point I had a good job at East Midlands Airport. I had been married for over two years, but had spent all that time apart, and we didn’t want to wait any longer to be together. So with an extremely heavy heart, I left Beeston, my family, friends and my job for the last time and travelled to the medium-sized town of Reno, Nevada”.
I do sometimes find myself wondering what would have happened if I had remained in Beeston.
“Reno is as different from Beeston as it is possible to get. Neon-lit casinos dominate the downtown skyline. Guns and marijuana are legal. Beautiful mountains rear up into the clear blue sky. We get 300+ days of sunshine a year. Thousands of wild horses run free in the mountains. The stunning sapphire blue Lake Tahoe is just 45 minutes drive away. It gets up to a sweltering 36 degrees in the summer, no rain for six months but then proper, up to your knees snow in winter. It’s high, dry, harsh, but beautiful”.
“I found out I was pregnant less than three weeks after I arrived in the USA, and had Audrey was born in October 2016. While she was obviously a wonderful gift and lights up our lives, it was and still is indescribably hard to have a child so far away from home and the NHS, in a country where maternity leave is non-existent and once you leave the hospital, you’re presented with a huge bill, but with no support. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. But it’s not all bad. People that I meet love my accent and are fascinated with my life story. But I do sometimes find myself wondering what would have happened if I had remained in Beeston”.
I miss being able to walk everywhere and feeling safe. I miss Beeston with every fibre of my being, and I long to return.
“It was a massive wrench to leave, but I had to in order to finally be with my husband. You see in 2012, the year before I got married, the then Home Secretary Theresa May introduced extremely harsh immigration laws. There are strict financial requirements on British citizens who dare to fall in love with someone from outside the EU, and the result is that there are thousands of ‘Skype’ families like mine, forced to live half a world away from their loved ones. Because I married an American, I either have to find £62,500 in savings or I have to earn at least £18,600 per year in the UK before I can apply for my husband’s visa. This can cost thousands of pounds and has a high rejection rate. It’s my heart’s desire to reunite my family, and I won’t stop until I achieve it. There are so many things I miss about Beeston, the vibrant town centre, the Beeman and the distant sound of the bells ringing at the Parish Church where I was christened. I miss being able to walk everywhere and feeling safe. I miss Beeston with every fibre of my being, and I long to return”.
“As I have no other way of raising the money needed for my husband’s visa application, I created a ‘GoFundMe’ page. This has been featured in the Nottingham Post and Daily Mirror. I hate asking strangers for money, but if my story has struck a chord, please, please help me get home. You can find my page at https://www.gofundme.com/4ptaah-please-help-reunite-my-family