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The night I 'flew' a glider inside the Corn Exchange

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Memories of Shirley Ambrose (nee Brock) of a party held in 1947

A 13-year-old Shirley Brock in the glider
A 13-year-old Shirley Brock in the glider

IN 1947 the Red Cross held a New Year’s Ball in Newbury Corn Exchange to celebrate the end of the war and welcome in the new year.

At the time I was a pupil at Iris Brooks School of Dance and I was asked to dance to bring in the new year.

My father worked at Elliotts of Newbury where, during the war, gliders had been made, and it was decided to make a special glider for me, as Miss 1947, to fly in at midnight.

It was situated somewhere over the top of the box office, completely hidden by decorations.

A trial run of the flight took place beforehand, with my 14-year-old brother sitting in the plane, and, to everyone’s consternation, the attachment on the back of the plane broke loose and the plane went sailing back and forth with all the men
frantically trying to catch it whilst my brother smiled happily all the time.

A new form of attachment was then made.

At midnight, the lights were all turned off, the roar of an aeroplane was heard and a spotlight showed an aeroplane breaking through the decorations up above the box office and slowly descending down to the ground.

My music began and I stepped out of the plane and performed a ballet dance, after which I got back into the plane and held up a glass to indicate to everyone it was time to drink a toast to 1947 and the evening ended with everyone singing Auld Lang Zyne.

I am 83 now and my memory much dimmed, but this was a night I will never forget.

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