Olympic Reverend relives his war years

The Reverend Tom Farrell & his book
The Reverend Tom Farrell & his book
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A FORMER Olympian, has launched himself into the publishing world with a brand new ‘fictionalised memoir’.

Retired Reverend Tom Farrell, who represented Great Britain in the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne and Rome in 1960, has penned a book about his years as a Second World War evacuee.

The 79-year-old, who helps out at St Mary’s Church and the churches in Chearsley and Nether Winchenden, gave himself a pseudonym in the book, called Tim Oliver, Evacuee.

He initially started writing the book three years ago for his grandchildren, but it developed into something more.

“I realised my grandchildren might be interested to learn about what I got up to. It started as a memoir but it ended up as a fictionalised memoir. I don’t remember actual conversations so I had to make them up, and some of the characters are fictional, but the basis of it is true.”

Reverend Farrell, who now lives in Long Crendon with his wife Liz, was born in Liverpool. He was evacuated at the outbreak of war in 1939 when he was seven. He and his older sister Shirley were sent to live on a dairy farm. His job was to collect the eggs from the chickens.

He said: “I did miss my parents but it was like being in a big park with no railings and I made new friends.

“Joe, the boy at the farm, and the farmer and his wife were very kind and friendly. Although the school was a different matter, the headmistress was unpleasant.”

Reverend Farrell is now considering the possibility of penning another memoir. As a young man he had a keen interest in athletics and in 1956 he represented Great Britain in the 400 metres in the Melbourne Olympics. In 1960 he took part in the 800 metres in Rome. Although he didn’t come home with any medals he came back with many memories.

He then went on to become a teacher of Physical Education and Religious Education before being ordained in 1971.

The following year he returned to the Olympic stage, this time as a chaplain to the Great Britain team in Munich, but it was a terrible return as this was the year a group of terrorists killed eleven Israeli athletes, and in the chaos and suffering afterwards he tried to bring comfort where he could.

After spells working in London and Burford, Reverend Farrell, who has three children and nine grandchildren, finally settled in Long Crendon in 2005.

Although officially retired he still helps out at St Mary’s Church in the village and also at the churches in Chearsley and Nether Winchenden.

His book costs £13 for the hardback and £9 for the paperback and is available from Thame Bookstore in the High Street; from Amazon; and from himself, email tomfarrell@uwclub.net