A BOOK charting the true-life story of an evacuee fleeing war-torn London for South Africa is now on sale – with all proceeds going to the Isle of Man Anti-Cancer Association.
Still Going Strong has been written by Port Erin resident Michael Linck and covers his formative years, from the age of 14, war service and subsequent career in insurance, which took him around the world.
His uncle was Scottish playwright Graham Moffat, and he has inherited his skill with words as the book is very well written and entertaining. The tone also captures the pluckiness of a generation that survived the war.
It opens in 1940 and he was a 14-year-old wearing a navy blue blazer with a £5 note sewn into the inside pocket by his mother, on the train from London to Liverpool surrounded by other evacuees.
‘Morale was high. Little thought was given to recent times spent in air raid shelters. For most it was the start of a great adventure,’ he writes.
This sense of adventure continues throughout his life. During the Second World War after training as a cadet he served with the Royal Navy in the Far East and Pacific. After the war, his business career in insurance involved setting up, managing and over viewing organisations in Rhodesia, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Canada.
It includes an intriguing episode assisting the evacuation of President Tshombe from civil war-torn Katanga, which was part of the Belgium Congo.
The turning point in his life happened in 1980 when he was diagnosed with cancer.
He moved to live in the island permanently in 1986 and became chairman of several island-based captive insurance companies and vice chairman of the Isle of Man Insurance Authority.
Prompted by his family, he decided to write his experiences down and he decided it could also raise money for cancer research. He said: ‘When I had done it I thought: “Heck, the island has been good to me, with hospital treatments, it’s payback time.” I wanted to fund a charity that was really worthwhile – it was cancer research.’
It also serves a deeper purpose, of giving hope. He added: ‘I wanted to show the message never give up hope, get there early (for diagnosis and treatment) and carry on and make the most of it . . . people say they are diagnosed with cancer, this is the end . It may help people who think this is the end, they can have a long run, they must never give up.’
Still Going Strong, priced £7.50, is available from The Bridge Bookshop, Port Erin and Waterstone’s, Douglas.