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W.E. Johns Appreciation Society - 22nd Annual Meeting 2007

It was with much excitement, and a little trepidation, that we set off at 6.30 a.m. on the 20th October 2007 to Derby County Cricket Club with a car load of books by W.E. Johns. This was the first time we had attended the W.E. Johns Appreciation Day and, having never been to the venue before, we weren't sure what to expect. Upon arrival at 9.00 am the work really started - up with the book shelves, in with the books, give them a good old sort, and discover there is not quite enough space! But after about an hour all is set up and we are ready to go.

Next there is the general hubbub as the society members arrive from all over the country - by car, by train and maybe on foot. The advantage of being early is that you get more browsing time, and the morning was spent meeting and greeting all the members, putting faces to familiar names. I remember several really enjoyable conversations. One in particular was about the Worrals books and how, during the Second World War, the R.A.F discovered how the Biggles stories were encouraging all the young men to join. They asked W.E. Johns to write stories for the girls and so Worrals was born - as a propaganda tool!

There was a most enjoyable puzzle provided by Joy Tilley, which I thought initially would be really difficult, but in the end proved quite simple and enormous fun. We then had a great lunch, and we were actually allowed a second helping - such a treat! And at the end of the day, to my surprise, I won a prize in the raffle!

The afternoon flew by so quickly with so many enjoyable events - 

There was Alison Thompson with "Bumps 2". This was the most fun of the day and it was a shame there not a few more children present to enjoy it. We went through many of the Biggles stories and each time one of the characters received an injury it was added to an illustration of that character - so there were black eyes, twisted ankles, bumps and bruises everywhere!

The sound quiz followed and everybody was given a slip of paper with six multiple choice questions. We then had to guess the aircraft from the sound. My first thought was 'well at least I might get one right by guessing', but it appears I must have learned a little more than I thought from Johns' descriptions of the aircraft as I had four correct answers, whereas my colleague (a 'Non-Johns' person) didn't manage to get any!

We were then royally entertained with a talk by Simon Lawrence about some of the Johns ephemera. There was so much to learn that I'm sure I've forgotten as much as I remembered. I never realized quite how many magazines Johns contributed to. This talk was followed by a well earned coffee, and a quick browse by everybody to see what unusual Johns items they might add to their collections. On our stall we had several original letters by W.E. Johns which generated a lot of interest.

Flying through the rest of the programme as now we were running a little late, we listened to Jenny Schofield (pseudonym Piers Williams) giving us brief talk about how she became involved with W.E. Johns, Selwyn North who gave us an unusual weather report where we learned how the weather affected Biggles adventures and Brian Woodruff who gave us a twenty question quiz.

Then because it was a long way home and England were playing in the Rugby World Cup final, we packed up in a rush and managed to get home just in time to watch the match. (They lost!)

Finally thank you to Selwyn and Brian for all their efforts in organizing a most successful and enjoyable day. The planned date for the next event in Derby is 18th October 2008 (to be confirmed). There will also be a spring meeting at Loddon Hall, Twyford, Berkshire on the 12th April 2008.

If you are a fan of W.E. Johns why not join us? Details can be found on the society website at

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