St Clare Hospice: War diary is reunited with family after social media campaign

Charity / Thu 2nd Mar 2023 at 11:22am

A SECOND World War diary, mistakenly donated to St Clare’s Vintage & Retro charity shop in Harlow, has been reunited with the family of the soldier who penned it, after the West Essex charity launched a social media campaign.

Tracey Chippett, the Manager of Scarlet Vintage & Retro explained, “One of our volunteers, Gill, found the book whilst tidying the shelves. It looked just like a normal, vintage book but when she opened it, she could see it was so much more than that. It was a handwritten diary by Sgt George A West dating 1939 to 1948 and full of incredible details of day-to-day life.

“We knew from the diary that the family home was The Hollies, in Felsted, his RAF badge number was for ‘Tomps’ – 551769, there was a connection to family in The Hague, Holland, he had neighbours called Hopecraft and that he was in the Rifle Brigade 1903 – 1929. “Alongside this information we put a few pictures on our Facebook page, and within a few hours we had over 222 shares of the post, and it had been seen by over 26,000 people.”

“It really captured people’s imagination,” explained Tracey. “We were delighted when Felsted School archivists got in touch with vital information about Sgt West’s family, and we were able to reunite it with his granddaughter Sue Cole. Although the diary had been mistakenly donated, the story has a happy ending, with the diary safe and sound, back with Sgt West’s family in Coggeshall.”

Tracey said, “We value every donation that is made to our shop as sales pay for nursing care and support for St Clare patients and their families across West Essex. Please consider donating any vintage or retro item you may have as we have customers travelling far and wide to support St Clare and re-home the special items we stock.”

You can find Scarlet Vintage & Retro at 3 Broadwalk, Harlow, CM20 1HX. The shop is open seven days a week and you can contact the team on 01279 412516.

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