FOXLEY Camp may be gone, but thanks to a powerful mix of memories and emotion expressed at last weekend’s special event, it’s once busy past will never be forgotten.

A sweeping valley teeming with life up until the early 1960s, the camp once again rang with voices and the rumble of vintage military vehicles as Mansel Lacy, the village which welcomed successive groups of people over more than 20 years, paid tribute to this remarkable spot.

Military personnel arrived at Foxley in the early years of the war; first came the Canadians, then the Americans and after the war the camp housed Polish refugees unable to return home. It also has fond memories for many who found temporary shelter in former army huts due to the post-war housing shortage.

Hundreds accepted an invitation to visit the former site, now to be returned to parkland, to learn more about the Foxley story. Since January a concerted effort has brought together those who once lived at the camp and stories recollecting a way of life experienced here have been gathered.

Many who grew up at the camp have exchanged stories of a happy childhood surrounded with acres of freedom, where they attended Foxley School, bought groceries at the camp shop, visited the camp library or caught the regular Yeomans bus service into Hereford. Strong friendships established in the 1950s and early 1960s have continued until the present day.

Said Jenny Kettle: “We are so excited about the weekend, we are going to explode with happiness.” She was born Bozena Wojdylo, her Polish first name Anglicised to Jenny, and has kept in touch with other Polish friends who also lived at Foxley. Last weekend she was proud to dress up in national costume.

Said Stasia Dzierza: “We had a wonderful childhood at Foxley, we had a youth club and played rounders on a large green.” Athletics training was also held on the green.

The Polish refugees shared lasting friendships with those families who moved to Foxley when accommodation throughout Britain was desperately short. Geraldine Kelly and Ann Llewellyn were delighted to add their own memories of life at Foxley after the war.

“There was a picture house in a tin hangar – not good when it rained!” said Geraldine. “There was a large square where the Polish families had their celebrations, dancing and playing music in national dress,” she said. A NAAFI café supplied fish and chips as a once a week treat, milk was delivered as well as the Davis Brook ‘pop van’, and local character Monkey Davies sold fresh fruit and vegetables from his van.

“Yeomans double-deckers ran all the time, we were piled on like sardines!”

Sue Hallett, who did much of the research into Foxley’s history, said the National Lottery funded project would continue until December 2020.

“People will be able to look back and see what the Foxley story was,” she explained.

Meanwhile, she added that there was a wonderful turnout on a very emotional weekend for all.

“People renewed long lost friendships," she added.

"One man told us he’d waited 50 years for this.

“We’re grateful to the Davenport family for their enthusiastic support.”