Relative shares insight on Churchill

Published: Tuesday, January 13, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 13, 2004 at 12:20 a.m.
World travel played a major part in the life of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, said his granddaughter, Celia Sandys, to about 60 people Monday night at the University of Florida's Brain Institute DeWeese Auditorium.
Sandys, an accomplished author and speaker, came to Gainesville to visit friends and to share her unique insight on her grandfather's life and world travels. Sandys has devoted much of her time to researching her grandfather's life by traveling to many of the same destinations that he did and by sifting through Churchill's writings and the personal accounts of those who met him. Churchill died in 1965.
"My grandfather enjoyed the good things in life, and he traveled in style," Sandys said.
Churchill started traveling when he was young, surviving adventure and war, including an escape from a prisoner of war camp in South Africa, and he continued to trot the globe until old age, she said.
Even during his tenure as prime minister of Britain, Churchill continued to travel and risk his life by moving across battle-torn Europe during the middle of World War II, Sandys said.
"Few people realize how extensive were his travels during World War II," she said. "He was prompted by the need to see things for himself."
Sandys said Churchill insisted on making about five trips to France even during the riskiest of times when Germany was overtaking parts of Europe and there was an ever-present danger from German U-boats and military.
When Sandys was a teenager, she accompanied Churchill on many of his later adventures.
She recalled Churchill as a witty and humorous man who liked to spend time relaxing with his family.
"He had perhaps the most relaxed relationship with his grandchildren," she said, responding to a question about her personal memories. "We were the only people who took him for granted and weren't in any way awed by him."
Dawn Grinenko, a physician from Gainesville who attended the speech with her husband, said she was impressed with Sandys' deep knowledge of her grandfather's travels and activity during World War II.
"I really enjoyed it, especially because I don't know much about the time period," Grinenko said. "She was a great storyteller."
Jana Stevenson came with her husband, who is a World War II enthusiast, and described Sandys as a charming and interesting speaker.
"She made it a personal account of him that not a lot of people can offer," Stevenson said.

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