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Until relatively recently hardly anyone would have heard of Tony Foulds from Sheffield and yet yesterday on BBC Breakfast if his name was mentioned he got a cheer from thousands of people at Endcliffe Park.
Tony, when as a 8 years old, was playing in the park, he saw an American bomber plane struggling with just one engine. He remembers seeing someone on the plane wave to him. As a child he thought they were being friendly and just waving. As an adult he realised they were telling the children to move away as the plane prepared for a crash landing. The plane crashed avoiding houses and the children playing but all 10 crewmen were killed. Stories of heroics from the war are always moving but this one turned into a story that almost brought the nation to tears.
Tony, now 82, has tended to a memorial for the 10 crewman who were lost, almost every day since he has been an adult. If he goes on holiday then he ensures that his son goes to the memorial. A few months ago, a chance meeting at the Memorial between Tony Foulds and BBC’s Dan Walker led to the pair starting to talk. Dan Walker was so moved by the story that he said to Tony he would try and help get a fly past for the 75th anniversary of the event which was Friday 22nd February 2019. Tony talks to the crew through the memorial and has now said he considers them part of his family and has said that when he passes away he would like his ashes to be put at the memorial so he can be with his friends.
We watched the first interview with Tony and have followed the story with interest and yet we, as many, were moved to tears by watching the reaction of Tony as his dream of a fly past came true. The story started with a chance meeting and yet went viral and ended up with families of the American crewmen attending the event along with dignitaries and thousands of people.
Ten planes took part in the flypast and each plane had the name of one of the crewmen on. One of the great nieces of an original crewman watched in tears and she said the flypast which depicted the missing plane was an experience she would always remember.
This story covers so many positive things: the actions of heroes both the crew and of the tireless work Tony has done with keeping the memorial going and telling the story. It also shows how such a story can unite people together and with this so many things can be achieved.
Dan Walker was unable to be at the event as he was in Tanzania preparing for his Coming Relief Challenge. I wonder what the reunion will be like between Tony and Dan when he returns. I know more tears will be shed!!!
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