Letter - Wakefield and its people gave us hope

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I WRITE on behalf of my grandfather Joe, who saw a few months back an article in the Wakefield Express called: ‘What’s great about your community?’

The article led him to write a personal thanks, not to his community, but to all the people of Wakefield.

Now a little bit of background: My grandad isn’t originally from Wakefield, he lived in Jersey as a small boy, his parents were both French and they were brought over to England during the war.

Here is what he wrote: “The War Years 1940 - What makes Wakefield Great.”

A train arrives at Kirkgate station filled with refugees from the Channel Islands. Most were frightened, bewildered. The not knowing what was to happen to them was a big worry.

My family and I were taken to the Girls High School in Wood Street. We were given food, blankets and a bunk bed for the night.

Throughout the night, our family tried to console one another and my Mother and Father. Both could not speak English, only French, and this was a big problem.

Having lost all their possessions, being in a strange land, and not knowing the language, they took the ordeal badly, crying with anguish and sorrow. To add to this they had also had to leave a son behind in Jersey under the German occupation. As we looked at our parents we could see the despair and sorrow. We were exhausted and fortunately sleep took over.

Morning came, and council officials and the Red Cross met us in the hall to discuss what they proposed to do. Our family was split up into pairs around the city, until accommodation could be found for us.

They told my father they would find work for him although he spoke no English, and reassured him his children would be looked after, helping some of his daughters find work and his younger children school.

When my father heard these words and understood them, I saw hope return to his eyes. It made me cry. The hope and joy the people of Wakefield gave our family when they heard the words cannot be described.

To all the people of Wakefield who gave our unknown family a second chance for a new life in the city and those who brought happiness again to us. On behalf of my family - sadly only my brother and I remain - we wish to thank you all, the lifetime spent with you was a very happy one.

Supplied by Kayleigh Wilkinson

Laithes View, Wakefield

on behalf of Joseph Rene Delaporte

Brandy Carr Road

Kirkhamgate