A film spurred me to confront my childhood nightmare 54 years later

The Globe And Mail, Focus Section
Saturday, February 7, 2015

Pirie-webOn the evening of Feb. 4, 2014, I landed at London Heathrow Airport, nervous about finally joining a number of men I had never met, but with whom I shared secrets that were over 50 years old.

We were on our way to Crown Court in Buckinghamshire, for the sentencing of two schoolteachers, Peter Wright and Hugh Henry – old men now. Each of us, as young boys, had been sexually abused by one of them, and had become official complainants in the Crown’s case against them.

Throughout my life, my plan had been to stay silent and ignore what had happened to me; I would keep going forward. I had been certain, as a child, that no adult would believe me if I told them. And even if they did, it was so disgraceful, they would have to hush it up; I would be blamed rather than rescued. Later, as an adult, I feared that my family would be hurt, my friends would distance themselves, and I would lose my tenuous place in the world.

That plan suddenly fell apart one September evening in 2011, just after midnight, when I sat down in front of the television. Our bedroom cable box is automatically set to TVO, where I serve as chair of the board, and a documentary was just beginning.

Continue reading

The Battle of Britain:
Remembering “The Few”

National Newswatch
Tuesday, September 15, 2015

History chooses its battles. The turning points of history are often identified well after the events have taken place, sometimes decades or even centuries later.

The Battle of Britain, however, in which the Royal Air Force held off the German Luftwaffe in the summer of 1940, didn’t take long to be considered by military historians as the greatest air battle every fought.

Every September 15th, which is officially Battle of Britain Day, my wife Carolyn Bennett and I attend the Battle of Britain Commemorative Service at Westminster Abbey in honour of my late father, who flew in the Battle as one of Churchill’s “Few”. Following the Service, the congregation of over 2,000, including Prince Charles and Camilla, streams out of the Abbey to join a silent throng of Britons lining Parliament Square.

Continue reading