AN AYRSHIRE veteran has shared his unique story of how a love for model boats helped him and his family get through the Second World War – and now lockdown.

Charlie Knox, 85, responded to a social media campaign by meal delivery service Parsley Box, which called for those who celebrated the 75th anniversary of VE Day to share their memories of growing up during the war.

The 85-year-old wrote in with his tale of how a love for model boats kept his spirits high during the war and is now keeping him busy during the lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Charlie shared a photo of him and his little brother holding a model yacht in 1943. The yacht, called ‘Irene’, had been given to him by a neighbour, who claimed her grandfather had built it during his time as a shipyard’s apprentice some 80 years beforehand.

‘Irene’ inspired the young Charlie’s interest in model boats and after being passed among his family over many years, the boat eventually made it back to Charlie who has it today. After a lifetime in service in the Royal Navy, veteran Charlie recently took to marine modelling once more and joined his local Ayrshire club.

He said: “Keeping in touch with other members through email, I circulated the photo of me with some of my boats in and around my little pond including ducks to indicate how much I missed the real activity. I also had to create friends as well, so I painted Captain Jack Sparrow on my fence and made an image of Calamity Jane (Doris Day version).”

He added: “It was Parsley Box’s request for stories from the past that made me think of the connection that model boats has between the two situations.”

The idea for the campaign came from Parsley Box’s founder Gordon MacAulay after discovering a trove of old photos of his mother, Anne MacAulay, whilst spending more time at home under lockdown. After deciding to include the photo in its meal deliveries, Parsley Box has received hundreds of letters, emails and social media posts from people wanting to share.

Gordon said: “So many families are taking this time to look back and learn from their family histories. We are so often surprised by those that call into us at Parsley Box, to learn from the wisdom of our elders, and we wanted to celebrate that, particularly as the nation endures tough times once more under lockdown.”


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