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On June 5th our regular monthly meeting was once again well attended by members and guests. A full programme of events began with the main speaker for the evening, Howard Heeley. This is the second time that Howard has visited us and on this occasion his subject was “Stained Glass Aviation Commemoration” Initially, Howard explained how glass is made by mixing together some form of silica, an alkali, and lime or lead oxide. The colour is produced by adding a metallic oxide. Stained glass was usually produced to make windows. The light would shine through eloquently demonstrating a means of expression that very few means of art are able. It is a form of painting that began over 1,000 years ago and is still essentially made the same way today. Our speaker then showed us numerous slides and examples of this art form that is used to commemorate Aviation today and the stories attached to each. A Zeppelin missed its target during WW1 whilst searching for the City of Lincoln. The parish church of St John in Washingborough, Lincolnshire has a Norman tower and a stained glass window inside the church depicts the zeppelin raid on the village in 1916. Without doubt the most impressive displays of aviation stained glass are installed in the St George RAF Chapel in Halton Buckinghamshire. The School of Technical Training at RAF Halton stretches back to 1919 and contains over 100 stained glass panels commemorating each Apprentice entry. These panels commemorate the many achievements and events in aviation history. Howard Heeley has a tremendous passion for the subject and this became more apparent when he explained to us, the only true way to appreciate the art of stained glass is to view the original. During the refreshment break our members and guests were able to view a selection of the many photographs from our extensive archive and also to brows a selection of our books and magazines. Afterwards we continued with our audience participation section. This time we discussed the life and times of a Blidworth man who a few still remember, but perhaps didn’t know the full story of his experiences as a young man. Mention the name “Leonard Stafford” to anyone who lived in a colliery house in our village during the 1940’s & 50’s, and they will tell you that he was the man you went to see when you needed to report a fault or a repair to your house.

Leonard’s official title was the “Estate Foreman” and as such he was responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the 800 properties that the Blidworth miners and their families occupied at that time.  In 1916, Leonard Stafford enlisted in the army at the age of 17years 11months. Following 12 months training with the South Staffordshire Regiment he became a Lance Corporal. He was then posted to France where he subsequently took up position on the front line. On March 21st 1918, during what became known as the Spring Offensive, which resulted in many casualties and 21,000 British soldiers taken prisoner. Leonard Stafford became a POW on that day and remained a prisoner until Armistice Day in November. He suffered many hardships at that time which he recorded in great detail in his notebook. He mentions, the shortage of food, the long hours of work maintaining roads and railways, how his fellow prisoners were killed by bombs dropped by British aircraft. Leonard passed away in 1959 and on the 100th anniversary of his capture, Leonard’s family presented his wartime notebook to the South Staffordshire Regiment’s Museum.
Our next three meetings are as follows;  ·       
July 3rd - John North with his presentation entitled “Experience Nottinghamshire. ·       
August 7th - Peter Hammond with Nottingham’s own Oliver Twist. ·       
Sept 4th-  Peter Smith and the history of Rufford Abbey.
Our meetings are in the Function Room of the Blidworth Welfare. Doors are open at 6.45 pm and ample parking is available. New members are always welcome. There is a small charge on the door of £2 to cover refreshments.
Our book, 'Blidworth and the First Word War' is into its second printing. It can be purchased from 'Miss Victoria's Shabby Chic Furniture Shop' at 39 Mansfield Road, Blidworth, at a cost of £10.
or telephone 07712693966 or Email: blidworthhistory@virginmedia.com