Reunion 50 years after Turkey trip
AGROUP of young people who embarked on a treacherous trip to Turkey 50 years ago could be reunited.
In July 1967 the youth group from Christ Church in Macclesfield drove across Europe in buses to Greece and Turkey to see biblical sites. The Express featured an article showing the mayor waving them off on their three week tour.
It caused concern for families back home because there was a major earthquake in Turkey during their visit. It even prompted a question in Parliament about their safety.
Now the reverend who led the group, Rt Rev John Hayden, 76, assistant bishop at the Diocese of Chester, is appealing for members of the group to get in touch for a reunion to mark the anniversary.
He said: “It was a major undertaking in those days but a very memorable visit. I am still in touch with the two assistant leaders, Malcolm and Pat but not with any of the others. Fifty years is a long time but it would be good if we could meet up for a reunion maybe at Christ Church.”
Rev Hayden has spoken about his memories of the trip, saying it was remarkable no one came to any harm or became ill.
He said: “The 7.1 magnitude earthquake took place in the area we were supposed to have reached. We were late passing through the Izmit area just east of Istanbul because we were delayed by breakdowns in the coaches.
“In any case, as we camped at night in the open countryside even this severe earthquake would not have caused us much harm. However, nat- urally relatives back home had cause for concern and we saw the extensive devastation as we drove through the area.
“Fifty years ago crossing the Austrian border into Yugoslavia and on into Turkey was driving into another world. Very few roads were Tarmac and were in such a poor state that the coaches gradually collapsed, so both had to be scrapped.
“When the roads caused a brake pipe to leak we drove around 20 miles through the desert on gears and handbrake to reach a garage. The constant vibration caused a hose to work loose which caused a fire.
“Water was obtained from local wells that had a strong smell but we filtered it and put in steriliz- ing tablets. There were few vehicles on the roads as most transport was by horse or donkey cart or camel.
“It would be good to meet up again after all these years to discover how such an experience changed people’s life attitudes.”
Email johndhayden@ gmail.com about the reunion.
The intrepid Christ Church youth group, pictured in the Macclesfield Express ready to leave on their adventure. Inset: Rt Rev John Hayden