From Whittlesey to Whittlesea! Radio station rekindles town's past

Rob and Julie Windle Whittlesey

Rob Windle, presenter on Fenland Youth Radio, took on the challenge of finding out more about one other 'Whittlesey' in the world, which he did. - Credit: Fenland Youth Radio

What started as a throwaway comment turned out into a fascinating discovery Down Under for one community radio station. 

Pino Soccio, a presenter on Fenland Youth Radio based in Whittlesey, wanted to find out more about another place in the world that adopts the same name as the Fenland town. 

Rob Windle, who presents the radio’s breakfast show with wife Julie and Pino, was then tasked with investigating the matter for the programme aired on February 12. 

“Fenland Youth Radio stretched out the hand of friendship to Whittlesea in Victoria, Australia,” he said. 

“I then took the challenge and contacted the city of Whittlesea at midnight UK time on their general number.” 

Whittlesey painting in Australia

Craig Lloyd, chief executive officer of Whittlesea City Council, pictured with the painting of the war memorial in Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire. - Credit: City of Whittlesea

Having bided his time, Rob was then forwarded onto Craig Lloyd, chief executive officer at Whittlesea City Council. 

The 10,000-mile phone call was perhaps something of a first for Rob, who also learnt about the British town’s links with its Australian namesakes. 

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“The Aussie Whittlesea, which is only 30 minutes from Melbourne, has a great connection to its Cambridgeshire counterparts as they shared the UK name,” Rob said.   

“In the Second World War, they sent food parcels to the Fenland town’s citizens. 

“In 1985, local farmers George and Anne Bates sent a picture of the Cambridgeshire town painted by local artist Maureen Watson to Whittlesea.” 

Whittlesey residents World War Two

Residents in Whittlesey were given food parcels thought to have been donated from Australia during the Second World War. - Credit: Supplied/Whittlesey Society

Whittlesey residents World War Two

Residents in Whittlesey were given food parcels thought to have been donated from Australia during the Second World War. Here, residents queuing on Delph Street, Whittlesey, UK. - Credit: Supplied/Whittlesey Society

Mr Lloyd, a country singer born in London, can be seen in Australia with the historic painting of the town centre’s memorial. 

Meanwhile, a key to the city of Whittlesea has taken pride of place in the main chamber at Whittlesey Town Council after being returned to the UK from Australia. 

Not only that, in 2009, residents played their part for Whittlesea following severe bushfires in the city, raising around £13,000 with £3,000 of that sum coming from a Melbourn to Cambridge cycle ride. 

There is rich history between Whittlesey and Whittlesea, and Rob believes by speaking to Mr Lloyd, this has helped rekindle those links that may have perhaps been forgotten. 

“Craig was delighted to chat about the weather, the Australian Open championships in Melbourne and, of course, any conversation must have a reference to the Ashes and England tour at the end of the year,” Rob said. 

“The phone call as part of the show went without a hitch with the contact between the Whittlesey and Whittlesea firmly re-established."