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Bill, 97, hunts for mystery guest from Shrewsbury wedding anniversary party

By Toby Neal | Shrewsbury | Nostalgia | Published:

As Bill Hardy and his wife Kate celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary, one of the guests came forward and said: "I want to shake you by the hand and thank you for putting me on the right road all those years ago."

Cubs and Brownies formed a guard of honour

His name was lost amid the hubbub, he then disappeared. That was back in 2011, when Bill was already aged 88.

And now Bill, a former Shrewsbury scoutmaster, is making a last attempt to trace that mystery guest at their do at the Lion Hotel, Shrewsbury.

"At 97 I have many loose ends I would like to tie up, and this is one of them," he said.

Now living in Bristol, he said: "It is to my loss that I have never done anything to discover who he was, and maybe today is too late, as I would like to shake his hand again and know him.

"Owing to the delay it may be mission impossible, but I would like to try."

If that mystery guest is still out there, or if anyone knows who he is, drop an email to toby.neal@shropshirestar.co.uk and we will forward the information to Bill.

Bill and Kate on their wedding day at St Mary's Church in Shrewsbury

The link between them may well have been through the Scouts or Cubs, as Bill was Scoutmaster of the 10th Shrewsbury troop and ran the Wolf Cub pack, and the Cubs formed the guard of honour at his wedding, which was at St Mary's Church, Shrewsbury, on September 29, 1951.

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His Shrewsbury bride, Kathleen Stella Baring-Rees – later known as Kate, which she preferred – was Brown Owl of St Catherine's Brownie pack.

Their diamond wedding anniversary celebration was on October 15, 2011, at the Lion Hotel on Wyle Cop.

"Kate and I were at the entrance of the main entertaining room where luncheon was to take place and we were welcoming our guests, when a 'young' man – and I say 'young' as I was 88 and he must have been 70 – came through the guests, thrust his hand forward, and said 'I want to shake you by the hand and thank you for putting me on the right road all those years ago.'

"I asked him his name but it was lost among the hubbub and I lost my hearing in 1943. And he disappeared."

What the man meant he does not know, but widower Bill, who lost his wife in January 2018, says: "His connection with me could have extended to 1960 when I was still active in Scouting until I left Shrewsbury and surrendered my warrant."

Toby Neal

By Toby Neal
Feature Writer

A journalist in Shropshire for 40 years, mainly writes features and columns, especially about aspects of Shropshire history. Lives in Telford and is based at the Ketley headquarters.

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