Plymouth York Capel And London

Jan Leeming

Shoreham 2007

Shoreham Airshow 2007
Me looking brave before taking to the air (and the wing) of the plane. Wow, it was cold !! But the whole experience was totally exhilarating.



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Jan's Blog

Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.


Date: 18th July 2014


I had hoped to write individually about all the fascinating places I’ve visited etc. over the last three weeks but, as always, I’ve been beaten by the clock.

Literally, my feet have hardly touched the ground in the last few weeks – it’s all been interesting/fun and highly enjoyable and maybe in August, when I have more time, I’ll be able to put in some photos for you but I haven’t even downloaded them from my camera.

A quick resume of the last month.

In my capacity as Vice President of the Yorkshire Air Museum, attended the Allied Air Forces Memorial Service at Plymouth Hoe. It was the 25th Anniversary of this particular memorial and a very moving service. A million years ago, I worked in Plymouth when they had a regional TV station called Westward and then for the BBC in Plymouth under the care of a wonderful boss called Tom Salmon.

From Plymouth I drove up to stay with my best friend at Barwick in Elmet prior to the French Officers’ evening in York and we did some sightseeing. Ripley Castle was great and we had a superb guide who told us some wonderful stories about the Ingilby family – staunch Catholics and with a colourful past. Although she knew all the dates she didin’t burden us with them – few people remember endless dates at the culmination of a tour but they do remember colourful/interesting/gruesome stories.

Sue and I also visited Selby Minster – although badly damaged by fire, it has been very sympathetically restored and is well worth a visit. I was told that most visitors by-pass it and go to York Minster which is a shame.

I was a guest at the lovely Middlethorpe Hall and on a free morning was invited to join the audience for a flower arranging presentation. I’d no idea what I was in for. Carl Wilde had me in stitches – the flower arranging was almost an adjunct to his non-stop amusing patter. By the time he’d finished his 2 hour stint, I had face ache and sore ribs from laughing. Definitely hope to see him again.

I’ve already briefly mentioned the super French themed evening which I hosted in York. It was quite strange to think that exactly 70 years ago, 2,300 French airmen descended on RAF Elvington and spent many of their off duty hours at the de Grey rooms never knowing whether that day would be their last on earth. The attrition rate was 1 in 2.

I also write briefly about the play ‘Cis and Barbiche’ and had a lovely surprise. A niece of Barbiche/Barbara wrote to thank me for what I’d said and sent on my words to Barbara in Western Australia and she in turn also wrote to me. I hope to visit cousins and my son next year and might just be able to meet Barbiche.

Dashed back from York to home and attended both the Veterans’ Dinner and then the Battle of Britain Memorial Day and for the first time in 7 years, the weather was diabolical and the whole ceremony had to be drastically cut.
When I have time I will upload a truly historic photo for those of you with an interest in the RAF. At the Veterans’ Dinner there were 5 CAS’s (Chiefs of the Air Staff) – 4 retired and one current.

Last weekend I was a guest at the Flying Legends display at Duxford – superb as always. My friends invited me to stay overnight and that included the after display party. I love dancing but have never gone in for dancing with other women or even dancing on my own but almost everybody turned out onto the floor so I joined my friends and boogied away for well over an hour – it was great. The music was very good and we had a singing group appropriately performing the 40’s songs which would have been around at the time of the birth of most of the aircraft at the show.

Then on Monday I was a guest at French National Day (we call it Bastille Day) Cocktail Party at the French Ambassadors’ Residence. I’m sure that my invitation was occasioned by the documentary I made on one of their Aviation Heroes – Free French pilot René Mouchotte.

This was the last function of the current Ambassador – Bernard Emié – so I don’t know if I will be invited again next year. There were many French service people there whom I’ve met during the last few years and in the course of my research.

LEGION D’HONNEUR – there was a very touching ceremony when nine Normandy Veterans (all British) were presented with the Legion d’Honneur by the Ambassador. I spoke to most of them and a grand bunch of chaps they were too.

WEST SIDE STORY - my friend Doreen came to stay and we went to the Marlow Theatre to see a production of West Side Story – it was superb and almost without fault. Thank Goodness the Director had not done what so many do these days – they alter a thoroughly good production in order to put their stamp on it. This show was very faithful to the original which I saw in London in 1961!!!!! The set was very good and worked – the orchestra excellent – and the whole cast of a high standard especially the two lead actors with singing voices to die for. My only criticism was that it was difficult to make out the words in the narrative. I don’t know if this was due to over-amplification (they nearly all wear head mics these days) or just poor enunciation. I’m finding this more and more – the young simply don’t end their words and almost eat them. And I have extremely good hearing so it isn’t that. It isn’t just on stage that this is happening – it’s more and more evident in everyday life.
The combination of accents and unclear speech is making comprehension more and more difficult.

We both enjoyed the show so much that we’d have gone again the next night if it had been possible.

No more excitement now just some nerves for me – our little congregation at the Huguenot chapel is now so small and we have no pastor, so we are taking it in turns to read the service and it has fallen to me to officiate on 3rd and 17th August – all in French!

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