Menston villagers’ book tells tales of lives across the decades

Menston villagers’ book tells tales of lives across the decades

The Diamond Jubilee celebratory procession which took place in Menston last summer

A book celebrating the Queen’s coronation

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A book to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, which draws on the personal histories of the residents of Menston is officially launched tomorrow.

St John’s Menston is launching the book Jubilee Diamonds: Celebrating Young Lives, which incorporates 40 pieces including stories, poems, anecdotes and reflective pieces recounting memories of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.

Told with wit and sharp observation, they include the hardships endured in times of industrial strife and the traumas of the Second World War.

As an interesting contrast, six young authors write about their lives today and their part in last summer’s Jubilee celebrations.

It’s been edited by Joyce Simpson, St John’s church warden and former Head of Humanities at Leeds Trinity University.

She said: “The stories are so rich, it’s been a privilege to hear them all.

“Some examples are:

  • A young girl lives with a Cologne family in the Thirties, and hears family members loudly at odds over Hitler.
  • A radiographer at the Leeds General Infirmary pioneers X-ray images of cardiac function in ‘blue-babies’.
  • A young graduate is the first woman to work in the laboratories of Cadbury’s chocolate.
  • On D-Day a boy watches squadrons of planes in formation flying over London towards the French beaches, and is fired with ambition to become a pilot with the RAF.
  • GIs and their extrovert confidence are memorably observed by a bright boy in Manchester.

“And while the book presents parallel lives, it subverts easy distinctions between privilege and deprivation.

For example, two girls growing up in the Thirties, one from Bradford, the other the daughter of a Berlin lawyer: both lives are blessed by loving parents, and both are deeply marked by the tragedies of the second World War – and for both a home in Menston has been in later decades the basis of a fruitful life.”

In the preface, the Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, said: “I hope that those who read it will catch a glimpse of how life continues in our communities, constantly being shaped by one generation for the next.

“At the heart of it is a church that belongs to everybody – a church that offers a particular lens through which to remember the past and create the future.”

The book will be launched tonight at 7.30pm in St John’s parish room, with wine, readings and signings.

Tickets are £5 from (01943) 872433, or from Joyce Simpson at djsimp@btinternet.com.

The book is priced £12, but copies can be pre-ordered for £10. All proceeds for the Fabric Fund of St John’s Church.

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