Austin Seven

I know Andy liked fast cars but I’m sure even he would have appreciated this little Austin Seven which we came across at the Great Central Railway’s 1940s Weekend.  I was quite taken with it, and Hilary certainly enjoyed playing the part too as you can see!

The small family car of its day, I was reliably informed, getting up to about 45 mph on a good day.  Compare that to the huge family cars on our roads today that go a lot faster.  But what have we as a society sacrificed for speed?

As you’ll know if you’ve been following my blog, one of the things that struck me during my walk4andy was the need to slow down.  Despite coming back to a pile of work, I am trying very hard not to lose that spirit of taking things at a more gentle pace, a pace that will allow me to notice what is important rather than just what is in front of me.

While the wartime weekend was great fun, including singing ‘Land of hope and glory’ in a bunker with Winston Churchill, I couldn’t help wondering if all the joy and excitement of dressing up and having a nice day out on the trains really did justice to that period of history.  As a nation I think we are inclined to wallow in rosy-tinted nostalgia at times.

But the moment it hit home for me was after a very loud battle re-enactment at Rothley station, when the officer in charge led us in a minute’s silence to remember those who gave their lives in that war, those who died for peace, and also those who had died in the recent terrorist attacks.  Suddenly, the wartime experience of holding on to hope and celebrating life in the face of real fear and anxiety about the future was brought bang up to date.

I don’t want to get nostalgic about my walk.  It was tough up there on the crags in the rain!  Nor do I want to get too rosy-tinted about Andy’s life.  I know he had his failings like any of us, and I’ve already written about the times we fought.  Remembering the struggles is important though because it reminds us that they didn’t last forever.  The journey continued beyond those difficult days out of the shadows and into the light.

It’s a privilege every year for me to lead our community’s act of remembrance in Evington.  Even though fewer and fewer survivors of the Second World War are still with us, I believe it is still vital that we remember because it can give us hope in the face of today’s adversity and encourage us to celebrate and not to miss those special moments when we do experience life, love and peace in our time.


Author: walk4andy

I am a (just!) 40 year old vicar in Leicester. My brother Andy Lees died in 2013 aged 38 just three months after my father. They both suffered from Von Hippel Lindau syndrome, a genetic form of cancer. This May I am walking Hadrian's Wall to raise money for VHL UK/Ireland.

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