war-time evacuees return to Beach Cove

Brother and sister holiday in Hele Bay 80 years after war-time escape.

For many people, returning to a holiday destination is about finding somewhere comfortable to go year-in-year-out, somewhere that feels like a home away from home, yet for Allan Deacon, and his sister, Pat, their return to a holiday resort near Ilfracombe in North Devon proved far more poignant.

Nearly 80 years ago, the young siblings were moved into a Devon home for a three-year spell, as the family was evacuated out of London by their father in the terrifying heights of the blitz of World War Two.

This Summer, Allan and Pat returned to Hele Bay to stay at Beach Cove Coastal Retreat by Darwin Escapes, marking an emotional return to the area, as they spent a week exploring their base from all those years ago.

Allan’s father arranged for the family – including his pregnant wife, cousins, and aunties – to take shelter from the regular bombardment that the capital had been taking from the German Luftwaffe. Pat was born soon after at a local Devon hospital.

Allan had given little thought to the building that provided their war-time retreat over the years, until a 2019 holiday in the area led him to spot a house he could remember very clearly. Incredibly, the exact building remained as part of Beach Cove Coastal Retreat, a holiday resort with 26 beach huts and three spacious one-bedroom apartments following a conversion of the house. Each apartment is equipped with stunning views of Hele Bay, as well as stylish interiors that include a lounge, kitchen and bedroom.

“When I visited Ilfracombe two years ago, as a detour on a previous trip, I was surprised to see virtually everything was the same as it was during the war. My memory is prompted by photos taken by my mother and aunties, and despite the house now being converted into spacious holiday apartments, I recognised the place that I had stayed immediately” Allan, 84, explained.

“The beautiful beach huts that have been constructed on the cliffs were the only big difference that I could see, so we headed into the office and agreed to come and stay at one of them. Sadly, with the lockdown, the stay got put back a couple of years, but we are glad to have been now, and thoroughly enjoyed our week there.”

Lindsey Esse, managing director of Darwin Escapes, said: “We were so excited to hear Allan and Pat’s story when they visited two years ago, and we were really happy for them to return to the area and stay with us – even if we ended up having to wait two years before we could host them!”

“For visitors, our beach huts offer a unique staycation experience with really stunning views, and we are glad that Allan and Pat got to enjoy these, as well as the memories of their time here 80 years ago.”

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