Yesterday my two small grandchildren completed a sponsored walk round Rudyard Lake –well done! And yes, Rudyard Kipling’s parents gave him the name after staying there. But it reminded me of when we used to go every Sunday morning to take our friend Sam – who was approaching ninety and we thought was too old to drive – for his Sunday morning row in his 100-year-old boat. The other crew were Sam II, who was almost the same age, and Ray. Sam completed a sponsored row during one of the Rudyard festivals not long before he died in 1999.
Sam’s parents were Jewish refugees who arrived in Hull at the same time as Montague Burton. The immigration officials couldn’t spell the names of the arrivals so they made up names they thought sounded similar to the real ones. Sam’s father intended to go to America, but somehow or other he got stuck in Stoke-on-Trent, where he became a scrap dealer.
Sam was brought up in Cobridge, an inner city area of Stoke, in an overcrowded house where he shared a bedroom with several other relations. Nevertheless, he went to Oxford and later became a teacher in Newcastle-under-Lyme. During the war, he served with the RAF, but after setting off from an airfield in Norfolk and ending up somewhere near Southampton, it’s perhaps not surprising he was posted to the Outer Hebrides.
Sam had his own car, a Triumph Herald, which he had kept since it was new. I remember he gave me a lift in it once, and it still had the polythene protecting the door panel!
Sam was a great friend, and in these troubled times it’s worth remembering all the people who came to here, never became rich or famous, but contributed to our country and made us feel better for knowing them.