Year 8 Pupil Lunches with Captain Tom’s Family

Written by Ava Heffernan, Year 8 – Student News Team

Eva pictured at Captain Tom’s family home in Bedfordshire

During lockdown, Year 8 student, Eva Spickernell, discovered her passion for writing in a newspaper she wrote with her friend. The project was such a huge success that the girls received local press coverage and a surprise lunch invitation from Captain Tom’s family.

Looking back, Eva explained: “We started writing articles in lockdown because everyone was looking at the negative parts of Covid and the pandemic. We decided to write about the happy things that were happening around the world, and some local things happening in our village of Beckbury.”

Eva and her friend wrote articles for a few weeks and designed a newspaper to appeal to lots of people by including recipes, quizzes, and colouring sheets, before putting them in the Beckbury Community Shop, where anyone could get a copy for free.

A lot of people enjoyed reading the ‘Happy News’ newspaper and started emailing them to congratulate them on their work, with one woman even mentioning it to the Shropshire Star.

Hearing about this, BBC Radio Shropshire called the girls and asked them to go on the radio, to which they agreed. As well as this, an article was written about them in the Shropshire Star newspaper.

About the radio interview, Eva said: “It was nerve wracking and exciting all rolled into one; I’ve never spoken on the radio before. We were live on BBC Radio Shropshire twice and weren’t sure what we were going to be asked, but the presenters were really nice.”

“I knew my family and friends were listening as we were speaking, but it’s hard to imagine all the other people listening in too.”

In the third edition of the ‘Happy News’, the girls featured Captain Tom, writing about all the incredible things he did and wishing him a happy 100th birthday.

Eva (right) pictured with her friend and ‘Happy News’ co-writer

Amazingly, Captain Tom’s family happened to hear the girls on the radio and, because of this, Eva and her friend received an invitation to have lunch with them a month later.

They accepted the invitation, and Eva’s parents drove them to Tom’s family home in Marston Moreteyne near Milton Keynes on 16th September.

When Eva and her friend arrived, they were handed Captain Tom’s book ‘100 Reasons to Hope’, which featured their story.

During the visit, the girls got to chat about what Captain Tom had done, what they had done, and met lots of inspirational people and heard their stories. They also had their picture taken and had people sign their book.

Eva revealed: “It was quite daunting because we’ve seen them on the television, and read so much about them in newspapers and online. But they were so welcoming and encouraging that they put us at ease immediately, and I really enjoyed it.”

Summing up her time on the newspaper, Eva said: “I’ve loved every minute; it’s been such an incredible experience. It was a lot of work, but writing ‘Happy News’ kept us busy and gave us a focus during a difficult time.”

“It felt good to be doing something positive for others. I couldn’t have imagined that it would lead us to Captain Tom’s home. Unfortunately, we had to stop doing happy news when we went back to school, but I hope we can pick it up again in the future.”

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