Flashback: a brave 4-year-old’s night of terror, an Italian prison and Princess Diana

The 1996 Chigwell Police Show, held this week 20 years ago, thrilled parents and children alike.

The 1996 Chigwell Police Show, held this week 20 years ago, thrilled parents and children alike. - Credit: Archant

A look back at the biggest local stories from this week 20, 40 and 60 years ago.

1956: A quick-thinking four-year-old girl was forced to spend a terrifying night alone in her house after a fall left her grandmother unconcious on the floor.

And after getting over the initial shock of seeing her grandmother collapse on the floor of her bedroom in Mortlake Road, Ilford, brave Janet Chilvers somehow managed to drag her granny into her own bedroom, where she placed her head on a pillow and put a blanket over her.

Though neighbours heard the girl sobbing throughout the night, they were unaware her parents had left her home with only her grandmother.

At 8.45am the next day, a tired Janet, still wearing her blue dress from the day before, knocked at her neighbours’ who immediately called the authorities to get her grandmother treatment.

1976: A South Woodford lorry driver’s eight-week ordeal in an Italian prison finally came to an end.

Derek Wood, of Broad Walk, was arrested following a brawl that saw another British lorry driver shot dead by police.

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Speaking from the departure lounge of Pisa airport just minutes before his flight home, he told the Recorder: “The only thing I want to do now is get home.

“Then I think I’ll take a few days’ holiday to try and get over it all!”

The 27-year-old’s wife, Lisa, also flew out to be with Derek as soon as he was released from Ravenna prison.

A spokeswoman from the British Consulate said that Bologna Police had accepted that Derek had not been involved with the fight that broke out on the night of his arrest.

1996: A Woodford Green bachelor boy was the talk of the town after receiving a tongue-in-cheek message from Princess Diana.

Mark Morris, 19, of St Barnabus Road, was stunned to receive a message from the former royal enquiring as to whether he was “young, free and single”.

Any thoughts that the proposal was a prank were dispelled when an aide to Lady Di confirmed it was sent from their office.

The entire episode came about after Diana read a touching message of support from Mark, in the wake of her bitter divorce from Prince Charles, that he had faxed to a national newspaper.