D-Day double bill will bring Yorkshire veterans' first hand accounts to life in Lealholm, near Whitby

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Award-winning writer and actor, Helena Fox and vocalist Natasha Jones will be bringing a powerful new D-Day 80 Commemoration double bill to Lealholm’s Shepherds Hall Tea Room.

The event on Friday June 28 includes a specially commissioned film for the 80th anniversary, In The Footsteps of Hank Haydock, filmed on location in Duncombe Park where Normandy Veteran Dennis Haydock was stationed just prior to D-Day.

You can also hear a live reading with acapella song of a new spoken word piece Sleep/Re-live/Wake/Repeat, exploring one veteran’s lifelong battle with sleep trauma through the first-hand accounts of Yorkshireman Ken Smith and his wife Gloria.

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Helena said: “It all started back in 2016, when I was approached by the organiser for the York Normandy Veterans Association to see if I would be able, as a playwright and screenwriter, to find a way to keep their stories being told for future generations.”

In the Footsteps, a specially commissioned film for the D-day 80th anniversary.In the Footsteps, a specially commissioned film for the D-day 80th anniversary.
In the Footsteps, a specially commissioned film for the D-day 80th anniversary.

Helena went on to write and direct the award-winning touring play Bomb Happy which explores the experiences of five Normandy Veterans from the group, along with the testimonies of widows of Normandy Veterans, highlighting the lifelong impact of post- traumatic stress disorder.

“The veterans, who were all in their 90s when I first met them, were worrying about what would happen when they had passed away – who would remember the comrades they had left behind in Europe, comrades who had died in horrific ways, buried in unmarked graves,”

“Ken Smith was particularly concerned about this.

"He was haunted by his experiences, not a single night went by during his life when he didn’t have sleep trauma.”

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Helena Fox and Natasha Jones.Helena Fox and Natasha Jones.
Helena Fox and Natasha Jones.

Helena and Natasha have created these two new works to keep the stories of these veterans alive; both Dennis and Ken have now passed away.

Helena wrote Sleep/Re-live/Wake/Repeat and In the Footsteps of Hank Haydock to honour their memories by telling their stories in their own words.

Gloria’s son Marc Buchanan said: “Both the film and the live performance take you on an emotional rollercoaster – and amid the heartfelt performances you thinking every word of this is true.”

The event will also feature projections of never-before-seen photographs from Ken Smith’s collection taken during the war and in 1945 when he was stationed in the Middle East.

The event starts at 7pm.

Tickets £15, call 01947 897011 to book.

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