Reader’s letters - Monday, August 17

Williamson Park in Lancaster
Williamson Park in Lancaster
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Feeling humiliated at park

Since when has the use of public toilets been conditional on having had a CRB check?

In the last week of the school term I visited the toilets in Williamson Park, Lancaster, and though dismayed to see a party of primary school children in-and-outing, it was clear they were mainly out. However, a large lady ‘teacher’ stood in the entrance blocking my way and told me, albeit nicely, that I could wait outside until the children had gone.

It was obvious there was now at least one cubicle free and just a couple of kids at the sinks, and as I stood there confused, another ‘teacher’ pushed past me to use the toilets.

Outraged, I asked why I was held back but not the teacher, and I was told, again very nicely, that it was a matter of safeguarding and the teachers had CRB checks. One of the women used the emotionally manipulative phrase of: “Well, you’d want your children to be protected, wouldn’t you?”

Even more outraged I said I wasn’t a paedophile, that very few people are, and that even if I were, I had no chance of committing a crime with the teacher present in the doorway.

What a pity that people privileged to work with impressionable young minds set such a dramatic example to those in their care, probably simply to make themselves look important. A lot of schools visit the park and I’ve not been treated so humiliatingly, insultingly and patronisingly by any of those.

CM, Preston

Music legend still touring

I listened to BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour recently and was pleased to hear an interview with singer/songwriter Buffy Saint Marie, who came to my attention in the 1960s with the protest song Universal Soldier, which she wrote because the American Government denied it was at war with Vietnam. But it was her song Soldier Blue, written for the film of the same name in 1970 on the massacre by the US Army of the Cheyenne at Sand Creek, which for the first time showed how the West was really won with this brutal destruction of an Indian village.

Buffy Saint Marie is still touring and writing new music.

Good luck to her.

John Appleyard, address supplied

There’s a place for compassion

I was appalled to read that Philip Hammond, our Foreign Secretary, believes Europeans can’t preserve their standards of living if we have to ‘absorb millions of migrants from Africa.’

If we have good living standards compared to many parts of the world, it is at least in part because Europe has acquired and kept a disproportionate amount of the world’s resources.

Parts of Africa and some other countries have had a less fair share of these resources, resulting in poverty, starvation and death for many ordinary citizens.

No one is suggesting an open door policy of allowing anyone to come to Europe without proper checks.

But there is a place for compassion and moving away from a ‘Little Britain’ mentality that seeks to hold on to what we have and to ignore the genuine suffering of others.

David Harris via email

My carrier bag over 30 years old

I hate plastic bags. I made my first cloth bag in 1979 from a piece of denim left over from our eldest daughter’s school-made jeans.

I still have it and have only mended it once.

Think how many plastic bags I could have used in all those years.

Beryl Amistead via email

Do you know about Doris?

Doris (nee Catlow) was born in 1919, the eldest of four children on a farm off Stoneygate Lane, Ribchester, (near Preston).

She studied at Blakey Moor Girls’ School and Blackburn College from 1936 to 1937, and from 1937 to 1938 at St Katherine’s Teaching College, Liverpool.

From 1938 to 1944, she taught arts, drama, English, maths and history at Freckleton Holy Trinity Primary School, and had lodgings with Mr and Mrs Lonsdale on Kirkham Road.

Doris became engaged to David, an airman from Dingwall in Scotland, who was billeted in Blackpool for RAF training, prior to being posted to India and Burma to fight the Japanese.

In August 1944, Doris left Freckleton to teach at Intack Primary School in Blackburn so that she could also look after her mother in nearby Ribchester. Two weeks later, an American warplane crashed into the village of Freckleton, killing 38 schoolchildren (many of whom had been taught by Doris) and 23 adults. It was the worst civilian disaster of the Second World War in Britain (outside London). Doris returned to lead the mass funeral procession through the village.

David read about the disaster in a newspaper whilst in Calcutta. He did not know whether Doris was alive or dead, until six weeks later when he received a letter from Doris telling him she was alive. After the war they were reunited and married on St Valentine’s Day in 1946. They moved to Glasgow and had two children, Iain and Fraser. Iain tragically died from an asthma attack aged just 14 in 1964. They later adopted a daughter, Hazel.

They then managed an independent junior school, Park Lodge in Helensburgh.

Upon retiring in 1976, they moved to Lytham St Annes, where they became elders of the White Church in Fairhaven.

After their deaths, David in 2008 aged 93 and Doris in 2010 aged 91, their surviving son Fraser Gardiner discovered a collection of letters between David and Doris, along with photographs, newspaper cuttings and other ‘memorabilia’.

It is through these ‘memories’ their story has emerged, and Fraser is now in the process of researching further in order to produce a book about his family’s life. Fraser would like to hear from anyone who knew or has memories of Doris, David or their family, from any period of their life.

D.F. Gardiner, Flat 5, 49 Woodlands Road, Ansdell, Lytham St Annes,

Lancashire, FY8 1DA.

Email: DFGardiner@pr1media.co.uk