In September 1942, in the middle of the Second World War, Czechoslovak President, Edvard Beneš came to the Victoria Hall, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent Staffordshire. He met miners, members of the armed forces, civic dignitaries, and local GP and city councillor, Barnett Stross. It was even on Movietone News. (This links to a youTube video).

He came because the members of the North Staffordshire Miner's Federation had heeded the call of Barnett Stross, and a resolution passed earlier in the year by the National Miner's Federation. They had thrown their weight behind the campaign to rebuild the Czech village of Lidice that had been utterly destroyed by Nazi Germany on June 10th that year. It was a campaign that spread throughout the UK and across the World.

Barnett Stross summed it up like this, "The miner’s lamp dispels the shadows on the coalface. It can also send a ray of light across the sea to those who struggle in darkness." In reply to Hitler's declaration that, "Lidice Shall Die Forever" came a resounding cry of "Lidice Shall Live!"

As years passed, the ties between North Staffordshire and Czechoslovakia, later the Czech Republic, faded from memory. More than anyone else, Alan and Cheryl Gerrard, have laboured to revive the story and to rebuild the links between the people of the Potteries and the people of Bohemia and Moravia.

In support of their work, Steve Dyster and Mark Dally carried two works of art from Stoke-on-Trent to Lidice. They travelled by bike across England, the Netherlands, Germany, and into the Czech Republic. They went beyond Lidice, to the very start of the story in the quiet Moravian village of Dolní Vilemovice. On the way, they found friendship, encountered many links to the personal and the past.

Steve Dyster has now written the story of a bike ride into Central Europe, across time, into the past, across perspectives, looking to the future - however uncertain. They drank a lot of beer, too.

A Bike Across the Sea, is published shortly by The North Staffordshire Press. It will be available on Amazon and other outlets, but can be purchased direct from the author - signed and with greeting - for £9.99 plus £2.95 p&p in the UK (p&p not applicable for collections or convenient local delivery. Price for single copy, please ask for rate for multiple copies and overseas postage). Contact details below.