Attic discovery led to village chronicles

TWINS Bill Wright and Mary Simmons returned to their childhood home in Leek Wootton last week ahead of celebrations to mark the publication of their late mother’s diaries.

The pair, now aged 74, spent the last world war living in some style at the former Wootton Court, now divided into 14 private flats in the grounds of The Warwickshire Golf and Country Club.

But behind the storybook quiantness of sharing their lives with Miss Large, the cook, Mr Bullock the cowman, Mr Forrest the head gardener and Harry the chauffeur, was the sadness felt by their mother Doreen after their RAF pilot father was reported missing.

It was just days after Gilbert Wright was feared dead that Doreen began the first of her diaries.

The record could so easily have been lost. It was not until January, 2004, a few months after she’d died, that Bill discovered the old Boots’ Scribbler diaries in the attic of their later home in Buckinghamshire.

It was then he and Mary agreed to approach members of the Leek Wootton History Group to see if they were of any interest. Soon Helen Eldridge, who grew up in the village, was persuaded to transcribe Doreen’s neat italic handwriting and so unveil a fascinating and very personal history of life between 1940 and 1942.

The discovery led on to Heritage Lottery grant of nearly £37,000 to fund not just the publication of Doreen’s Diary: She Could Not Have Loved More, but a number of associated projects including wartime walks, workshops, learning packs and work with children in schools.

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