IT’S not been an easy year and for Chirnside’s Jacqui Adams. She’s continued her own battle with ME, as well as being by her husband Richard’s side as he underwent a bone marrow transplant but somehow she managed to find the time to write a story which has now been published in a new collection by the Scottish Book Trust.
Jacqui first heard about the book, ‘Scottish Family Legends’, from a friend who sent her a link to a piece on BBC Radio Scotland which invited people to send in intersting stories about their relatives.
And although she didn’t have much free time and found it difficult to concentrate and give the project the commitment it deserved, she managed to finish the 1,000 word tale within a month and she clearly made a good job of it as the Trust were very keen to include it in the final edition.
The relative Jacqui chose to slave away about on her laptop was her uncle Ron, who like many men at the time, was called up to fight the British cause in the Second World War.
He was onboard a Destroyer that was torpedoed by the enemy.
Those aboard the ship were rescued by the crew of another Destroyer and that’s where Jacqui’s story begins as 26-year-old Ron had a rather interesting arrival back on home turf.
Jacqui explained: “My family lived in London but after the first wave of bombing they had to move somewhere else so it was difficult to let them know what had happened to my uncle Ron.
“Somehow a telegram managed to reach them telling them that his ship had been hit and he’d be coming home by train.
“So they all went to Victoria Station at the time to wait for him. Coincidentally my dad, Don, arrived home on leave at the same time and they were shocked to see him walk through the station as they were waiting!
“A few minutes later the train carrying my uncle and the other sailors pulled up to the platform, and out stepped my uncle in just a vest and woolly knee length underpants!
“They were all sent home in whatever clothes they had left as there weren’t enough fresh clothes and blankets to go round and that was all he had.
“My auntie Joy was still quite young at the time and she found it rather funny; she got a clip round the earhole by my grandad for laughing!
“My dad quickly got some pyjamas for him from his own kit bag and my auntie Joy even tried to get her socks on him!”
Although Jacqui’s auntie Joy managed to see the funny side, having gone through a testing time, her uncle Ron wasn’t pleased about the lack of proper equipment for the soldiers and decided to make his views public in a letter to a national newspaper which had the desired impact.
“Within a few days of returning home, my uncle decided to pen a letter to the Sunday Express,” Jacqui continued.
“It was something along the lines of ‘if Winston Churchill wants people to go to war and fight for their country he needs to provide them with all the necessary equipment or he’ll lose his army pretty quickly’.
“It was featured the following week and my uncle went to his local pub and arrived home drunk without having to spend any money as he’d had that many drinks bought for him!
“He received a letter back from someone quite high up in the Ministry of Defence apologising for the conditions the sailors had been in. It ended ‘and thank you for your contribution to the war’.
“Needless to say when uncle Ron was called back up after 10 days at home he made sure he kept a blanket under his pillow at all times!”
The story of her uncle’s experiences during the Second World War was one that Jacqui felt needed telling but from the start she knew putting it together wouldn’t be easy.
Driving Richard, who we’ve featured in ‘The Berwickshire News’ due to his charity fundraising efforts, to various appointments in Glasgow and looking after their daughter, meant that she didn’t have much free time at her disposal.
On top of this all the travelling really took it out of her, but Jacqui said whenever she had a spare few minutes her thoughts would be concentrated on the story.
“I’m still a member of the Berwick Writers Group,” Jacqui continued.
“But unfortunately due to my own health and supporting Richard through all his treatment, I haven’t been able to do much over the last 18 months.
“My friend told me I should go for the Book Trust’s competition so I did which meant that whenever I could grab a few minutes to myself, whether it be at home or at the hospital I’d try to crack on with it.
“A thousand-word story doesn’t seem like a lot but it took a lot of effort.
“It didn’t help that I was using a laptop with a space bar that didn’t work and some dodgy keys but I got there eventually.
“With my ME I find it difficult to concentrate as I get tired a lot so I had to do a lot of corrections before sending the final version in.
“I found out in May that my story had made the cut - I couldn’t believe it as the Trust had received entries from all over the UK!
“Unfortunately after making my own enquiries I only found out about the launch of the book the day before it was due to take place.
“It was in Glasgow and it was just too short notice to get organised and get up there.
“I was really disappointed not to have found out about it sooner and I’ve since had an apology from the Book Trust.”
Having Jacqui’s story, ‘Ronald Gold RN 1914-1986’ published in ‘Scottish Family Legends’ has given the Adams another positive for 2011, following Richard’s fantastic recovery from his bone marrow transplant.
He is now back at work part-time at Farne Salmon and after completing a number of gruelling events before he was seriously ill, he has a cross trainer at home to get back into the exercise swing of things and is already contemplating tackling next year’s Great North Swim.
Jacqui added: “The doctors in Glasgow can’t believe how well he’s doing; his muscles may still be weak but he’s raring to go!”
You can read Jacqui’s tribute to her uncle by visiting www.scottishbooktrust.com