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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 158

Date:- 03 July 2004

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The Father, the fun and the Holy Spirit!

LIVERPOOL'S answer to Father Ted is gracing Liverpool's top comedy festival with his own unique brand of holy humour. 

Deacon Terry Gilvin is getting ready to deliver the gags which will have 'em rolling in the pews! 

The wise-cracking deacon completes an inspirational line-up for the Liverpool Comedy Festival - including a Methodist minister, Anglican vicar, a rabbi, a female Hindu and a Sikh faith leader.

It ends organisers' search across the city's pulpits to find a stand-up Catholic to join the unique collection of faith funnymen (and women), who will be starring in their very own show at the festival this week.

Terry said:- "A friend told me that the organisers of the Liverpool Comedy Festival were looking for a comical catholic, to which I replied - "well, where did they leave him?!" It was at this point that my friend dared me to volunteer my comedy skills for the festival!

I think that people don't laugh enough anymore, we tend to lose touch with the wonderful things that happen in every day life. My philosophy is to do my best to brighten up people's lives.

I've never done stand-up before - so I'm wondering what I've let myself in for! But I've received a very warm welcome from all the religious comedians, and I'm sure it will be a Lord of laughs!" 


The witty worshippers are now being put through their final paces by two professional comedians as part of a six-week comedy workshop to sharpen-up their joke-telling skills.

Gillian Miller, Chair of the Liverpool Comedy Trust. "I'm delighted we have now found our comical Catholic to complete our line-up of faith funnymen and women for the Liverpool Comedy Festival. 

The project - one of 80 funded by Liverpool City Council's Creative Communities grant - aims to celebrate humour within the city's diverse communities as part of Faith in One City, the second Capital of Culture themed year.

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Lottery Fund Honours War Veterans

SECOND WORLD WAR veterans from the North West are remembering comrades who didn't make it home as they return this summer with lottery support to the historic places where Britain and the Allies turned the tide of fascism.

Through the Big Lottery Fund’s* Heroes Return scheme, thousands of veterans have attended the D-Day commemorations in Normandy as well as visiting other places which hold special memories for them in the European, North African and Far East theatres of war.

A total of 661 veterans, widows, spouses and carers from the North West area have been helped so far to revisit Second World War battle sites under the Fund's Heroes Return scheme with the help of the Confederation of British Service and Ex-Service Organisations (COBSEO).

Big Lottery Fund Chief Executive Stephen Dunmore said:- “The coming months bring significant remembrance dates for veterans and their families and they are returning to the places that are special to them as the poignant anniversaries of battles approach. We are proud that through the Heroes Return scheme it has been possible to help give recognition of the debt we owe to those who fought for our freedom in the Second World War.“

Among those who have been awarded grants under the Heroes Return scheme is Jim Leath from Preston, Lancashire, who served with RAF crews dropping supplies to British agents and the French Resistance in the Pyrenees. Attached to 624 Squadron and operating from Blida airfield in North Africa, Jim was engaged in covert operations including helping secret agents to parachute into the Pyrenees region and carrying out propaganda leaflet drops. 

He remembers plans to drop urgently needed medical supplies to the French Maquis after they were engaged in a fierce battle with an SS Panzer division:- "The supply drop was assigned to Canadian pilot officer Les Peers and his British crew, for the night of July 14, 1944. The target area was covered by cloud, and the plane circled at least three times. On its final pass, it struck tall trees and then hit the ground on the Pic du Douly Mountain. There were no survivors."

He also welcomed the Heroes Return scheme and the educational opportunities it presents for today's young people to learn about secret and often unknown missions during the Second World War.

Seven veterans from the Cumbrian branch of the Parachute Regimental Association will travel to Arnhem in September to take part in ceremonies to remember comrades who fell in one of the best known battles of the war.

During the Arnhem ceremonies, thousands of local people will gather with the veterans at Ginkel Heath, one of the main drop zones for paratroopers in the Operation Market Garden offensive by the Allies. 

The operation was successful at first, but final Rhine Bridge at Arnhem was not held, resulting in the destruction of the British 1st Airborne Division. Thousands of servicemen were killed as they came down by parachute, along with many glider troops who had gone in to secure the area.

The Heroes Return scheme will help veterans to record their experiences on these visits so that new generations can learn from them. War widows and widowers are also eligible for remembrance visits funding.

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