I read with what was mild disgust the recent reports of the damage to Twyford Woods caused by an illegal rave, and though it might seem odd that I’m writing from the Netherlands regarding such an issue but there are several reasons why.
Personally, I used to live in Grantham and went to school there, and although I live abroad now I know the area well as most of my family still live in the locality.
Twyford Woods is of particular concern to me as the land in which it stands was previously partially owned by my great grandfather who farmed it until it was compulsory purchased during World War Two to build the airbase, the remains of which you can still see, and my grandfather grew up in a house immediately adjacent to the old runway.
I’m 24 myself and I can fully understand the desire to party and have a good time, but seeing a video of the rave on Facebook with the caption “this is what it’s about: unity” I couldn’t help but feel frankly a bit sickened.
Unity was being surrounded by thousands of Dutch men and women last month cheering Allied veterans and vehicles rumbling through the streets of Groningen in commemoration of a liberation 70 years ago that was made possible partially by the men and women of RAF North Witham, the remains of which were trashed.
Unity is my grandfather, who’s still alive, hearing the sound of hundreds of aircraft taking off from that same airbase in 1944 and people here in the Netherlands sobbing with joy and relief at the sound of those same planes overhead, signifying to them the end of an occupation that had seen tens of thousands of people starve to death.
To some Twyford Woods may just be a bit of waste ground that’s fair game to wreck, but to me, to my family who lived there during the years that made it what it is, to the airmen who flew from there and their families, to my fellow residents of the Netherlands and continental Europe, and to the workers and volunteers who’ve spent years making it into the beautiful nature reserve that it was and will remain, it means far more. That’s what unity is - people across generations, professions, borders and even continents being joined by a common connection and debt to one small patch of our huge world.
I would like to say “dank je wel” (thanks very much) for that, for the unity between Britain and the Netherlands which was made possible by the actions of those who flew from Twyford Woods, and more than anything else for the freedom that I enjoy here today courtesy in part to that little piece of Lincolnshire.