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WITH the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Britain drawing closer, ...

Date: Saturday 27th May 2000

WITH the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Britain drawing closer, the Daily Mail recently carried a feature naming some of the men who, as pilots of RAF Spitfires and Hurricanes, defied German fighter planes in the skies over England.

More than 100 of them, now in their 70s and 80s, attended a reunion at the RAF Museum at Hendon, North London, and among the old heroes was one from Penrith.

Sir Archie Winskill, now aged 83, was a pilot officer at the time of the Battle of Britain and was awarded the DFC after being shot down over France and escaping to Spain, aided by the French underground.

While he commanded a squadron during the invasion of Algeria, a bar was added to his DFC. He was again shot down and parachuted to safety from his burning aircraft.

The son of James Winskill, a one-time foreman at Kieser’s garage in Penrith, Archie went to the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School. He remained in the RAF after the 1939-45 war, reached the rank of air commodore and, as captain of the Queen’s Flight, he had charge of all the aircraft used by the Royal family. He was knighted in 1980.

Sir Archie Winskill was one of the “Few” — the young pilots whose courage, back in 1940, saved England from conquest by Hitler.

At the recent reunion, he said: “Britain was on its own, fighting for survival, and, even as adventurous young men, we were conscious of that.

“Fate had produced people such as me to do a job, and we did it without question. I was glad I could.”

SHOWCASE FOR CRICKET

It is doubtful whether there is a more delectable arena for cricket than the glorious amphitheatre of Keswick’s Fitz Park, set among the Lakeland mountains.

There was a piquant tinge to Sunday’s Cumbria Cup-tie on the field, for it brought together the traditional rivals, Keswick and Penrith, for the first time in more than 40 years.

In the early years of their “Derby” encounters, Keswick once skittled Penrith for five runs. In the 1950s, when the teams vied for superiority in the old Cumberland League, Penrith generally had the edge.

Sunday’s renewal of rivalry led to a tremendous contest, which Penrith won, though for non-partisan spectators the enduring memory will be of a matchless setting, bathed in sunshine.

TOP WORD WANTED

Words reflecting pleasure and enjoyment are bound to be top contenders in the millennium-inspired campaign to find the “Nation’s favourite word”, launched last week.

So the lip-smacking anticipation of a good meal — be it roast beef, Cumberland sausage or tatie pot — makes “food” a prime candidate.

“Television” is another possible, on grounds of personal enjoyment, as most people are now TV addicts — despite the fact that vast numbers try to convince friends that they never watch Coronation Street.

Women may well vote for pleasing compliments, words like “adorable”, “alluring”, “beautiful” and “enticing”. Or the less formal “cracker”, “stunner” and “good-looker”?

To be really popular, though, the chosen word must be simple and understandable, so we recommend a couple of one-time favourites, “please” and “thankyou”. To draw attention to them in this way might check their decline in use, which has been apparent recently.

The old-time values of politeness and respect need a bit of a boost.

TALE OF TRUE LOVE

The death of dance band musician Billy Munn, at the age of 88, struck a journalistic chord, recalling a brief encounter more than 40 years ago.

There was great news interest in Mr. Munn’s marriage at Penrith Register Office, not merely because he was a well-known band leader, but also because the bride-to-be was his former wife, a woman with local associations at the time.

The story appealed to news editors of daily papers, who saw the reunifying of the couple as a clear example of true love.

Some of the papers carried pictures of the happy pair, taken either outside the register office or at the reception at the Glen Cottage Hotel as the champagne corks popped.

Billy Munn was a leading pianist in the British dance-band world, a member of the Jack Hylton orchestra and a pioneer of jazz broadcasting. The Daily Telegraph obituary said he was married four times, twice to the same woman.

BEACON BOX

The Beacon, on the skyline above Penrith, has been a dominant influence, especially in the choice of names.

As well as streets named Beacon Edge and Beacon Street, the town has a Beacon Social Club and two Beaconside C of E Schools.

A garage, insurance brokers, a taxi firm, a ceramics shop and a security systems company have all included “Beacon” in their titles.

Further back in time, Penrith Cricket Club embodied “Beacon” or “United Beacon” in the name, and townsfolk drank Beacon Eighteen Penny Tea — “a rare combination of strength and flavour” — a speciality of the grocers, Pattinson and Winter, in Corn Market.

But the latest example of Beacon influence differs in that the small sandstone building has been used as a model in the making of a new fines box for Penrith Rotary Club by local craftsman Joseph Pearson.

In place of an earlier version, which was stolen last year, the Beacon box made its debut last week. Fines officer Hugh Ellison rightly ruled that all members should pay a penalty in honour of the “magnificent new box”.


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