Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Present and Correct Dunkirk Veteran's remeMbrance Day Dream; Dunkirk Veteran's remeMbrance Day Dream

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Present and Correct Dunkirk Veteran's remeMbrance Day Dream; Dunkirk Veteran's remeMbrance Day Dream

Article excerpt

Byline: KATHRYN RIDDELL Reporter kathryn.riddelll@ncjmedia.com

DUNKIRK veteran Sydney Hetherington is hoping to fulfil his dream of attending a celebrated remembrance service in the year he turns 97.

Born in Blyth in 1920, he loves to watch the Royal British Legion's annual Festival of Remembrance on TV but has longed to be there in person.

The festival commemorates all those who have lost their lives in conflicts and is held at London's Royal Albert Hall on November 11 each year.

Now the 96-year-old and his family are desperately trying to get tickets for this year's event after being unsuccessful last year.

Daughter Carol Heads said: "He remembers his army days very clearly and has always watched the Festival of Remembrance on TV.

"For the last few years he has often said he would love to be there and experience the atmosphere of such a wonderful occasion, before he dies, but didn't know how to go about getting tickets."

At 14, Sydney left home and went to look for work in London, before ending up at a shoe factory in Wellingborough.

Then at 18, shortly before World War Two broke out, he enlisted in the Coldstream Guards.

During the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940, Sydney was part of a rear guard which rowed out to a ship, using shovels taken from an abandoned ambulance as oars.

He landed safely in England on June 1 and promptly sent a telegram to his worried mother in Newcastle.

After Dunkirk, Sydney was stationed in London and was on guard at St James's Palace, Buckingham Palace and Windsor, as well as being on duty at Chequers, the country home of the Prime Minister when Churchill stayed there.

He later served in North Africa and Italy, rising to the rank of Sergeant, and has been awarded the 1939 -1945 Star, Africa Star, Italy Star, Defence Medal, War Medal and Dunkirk Medal.

After leaving the army, Sydney returned to Newcastle and bought a shoe repair business which he still owns today.

He married in 1946 and became a dad to Carol, Barbara, Elizabeth and Margaret, before getting divorced in the 1970s.

He later remarried but now lives on his own after his second wife passed away.

Despite his age, Sydney regularly visits eldest daughter Carol in Cyprus where she retired 14 years ago with her husband George.

The 70-year-old used to teach children with special needs at Gibside School in Whickham, and is now working to make her dad's dream come true.

She said: "A member of my choir, Helen Coombes, was talking about her father who collected military memorabilia and I talked about her father too, and made a chance remark about how he had for some time expressed a wish to go to the Annual Festival of Remembrance at the Albert Hall."

He has he would there experience atmosphere he Carol Helen thought she would be able to help and contacted her father, a member of the Royal British Legion (RBL), who tried to get tickets for Sydney in 2016, but without success. …

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