Wymondham Magazine lettering

Ted Talks:

Good Neighbours

Alex Perry Published: 02 March 2024

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Two men drinking tea in Abbey
Ted Barham (L) with Alex Perry (R).

“Mr. and Mrs. Salter lived on one side of us, and Mrs. Fisher was on the other,” recalled Ted. From an early age, in the 1930s, he learned the importance of good neighbours; they could go to the shops for you, pass on second-hand clothes, and let you play in their gardens.

Both the Salters and the Fishers played an active part in running the local Sunday School, and through them Ted joined a boys’ choir with his pal Wally King. Yes, Ted was a choir boy! When they were not singing, the lads liked to get up to mischief with their catapults and their bows and arrows.

When the Second World War broke out these neighbours moved away to more rural locations which had a lower risk of being bombed. However, other local people stepped in to keep both the Sunday School and the choir running, and keep morale up, during those difficult times.

Ted’s family took the opportunity to make community for others by taking in evacuee children from Gravesend. Fortunately, the War did not abolish childhood; Ted and his brothers played games with the evacuees such as “ring-a-ring-a-roses” and rope skipping.

Even in wartime, children still left out their socks for Father Christmas to fill with oranges and nuts. And fortunately, in an age of ration books, American servicemen in Wymondham acted as secret Santas to local families and put smiles on little faces on Christmas morning.

Just after the War, Ted’s family moved to Silfield, and the Browns and the Mitchells became his new friendly neighbours. The teenage Ted made new pals, including Brian Oldfield and Lenny Bunn (“the son of Sidney Bunn”), and took up new interests. He particularly liked to race motorbikes with his friends and older brothers at the Firs Stadium in Norwich.

Ted has realised that he has gaps in his memory and there is crucial information that he cannot recall right now. He plans to start recording his memoirs on tape, and then to use these recordings to help him dig up those missing details. Ted Talks may just be beginning!

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