German Covid rules halt cyclist's D-Day anniversary plans to trace Derbyshire war hero dad's footsteps

There may have been no way the Germans could stop his war hero dad setting off on D-Day during World War Two.

Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 9:29 am

But nearly 80 years later, and with Germany now among Britain’s closest friends, German coronavirus rules have halted a cyclist’s plans to mark the anniversary of the Normandy Landings by retracing his father’s steps, forcing him to postpone.

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Doncaster auctioneer ready for 1,800 mile tribute to D-Day hero dad

Richard had planned to cycle the 1,800 mile route his paratrooper dad took in 1944 when he was sent to France as part of the D Day invasion plan.

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Richard Stoodley

He planned to set off from England on June 5, like his dad did, and arrive in France on June 6. Then he aimed to follow the long trek his dad, Bob Stoodley, from Chinley, in Derbyshire took to a prisoner of war camp in Germany after he was captured. His dad was taken prison after placing a beacon to guide in the main paratrooper force as part of the landings.

Auctioneer Richard, from Tickhill, Doncaster, said gutted was too small a word for his feelings about having to postpone.

He said: “I’ve been forced to make the decision to postpone my Normandy to Stalag IVB cycling trip.

“I had already been juggling my own conscience with travelling abroad.

Richard Stoodley, left, with his dad, Bob, front and his sister.

"The whole story revolved around trying to time the time to arrive in France on D-Day June 6.

“The decision has now been taken totally out of my hands with Germany not only banning any non-essential travel but any arrivals forced to self-isolate for 14 days.

“This as well as the cancellation of my only available ferry and other Covid PCR Test regulations and the obvious related costs and time implications gave me no other choice.

“I have already spoken to my dad, and although, in normal circumstances, he would have loved the trip to coincide with the exact timing of his departure 77 years ago, he understands fully and supports the postponement.

Bob Stoodley, pictured before D Day

“Rather than make an early decision that may need changing again, I’ve decided now to monitor the situation closely, and with all the hard work, route planning and organisation done, I will be able to act quickly once it is safe and acceptable to travel.”

He is leaving open a fundraising page he has set up, https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/RichardStoodley, for the charity Support Our Paras.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.