February 8, 2018 7:46 pm
Updated: February 8, 2018 8:17 pm

Calgary veteran gets thank-you note from ‘Dunkirk’ director Christopher Nolan

WATCH: It’s not every day you get a handwritten thank-you note from a Hollywood legend. As Gil Tucker explains, that’s just one of the honours to come a 97-year-old Calgarian’s way this week.


Ken Sturdy has had a lot of memorable moments in his 97 years and now he’s got another one to add to the list.

It started when the Calgary Second World War veteran got a phone call offering a surprise invitation.

“They said, ‘Can you travel to California, Ken?’ And immediately, of course, I said, ‘Yes,’” Sturdy said.

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He’d been asked to attend the annual Movies for Grownups awards ceremony in Beverly Hills, put on by the American Association for Retired Persons.

“This wasn’t the Oscars,” Sturdy said. “It was something very similar.”

He’d been invited because of his connection with the movie Dunkirk, which tells the story of the one of the most dramatic events of the Second World War.

Sturdy was a young British sailor who helped in the evacuation of more than 330,000 Allied soldiers who’d been trapped by German soldiers on the beaches of Dunkirk in northern France.

After Sturdy took in the movie last summer in Calgary, the Global News story about it went viral, attracting the attention of the organizers of the Movies for Grownups event.

Watch below July 22: The movie Dunkirk tells the story of Allied soldiers who were evacuated during a fierce Second World War battle. As Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, a 97-year-old Calgary man who was actually at the battle had to see the movie for himself.

“They said, ‘Let’s get Ken Sturdy there,’” Sturdy said, “‘because he was actually there in 1940, as a 20-year-old sailor, helping get battle-shocked survivors of Dunkirk on these little boats and back to England.’”

Sturdy took the stage at the ceremony on Monday, Feb. 8 to talk about his memories of Dunkirk.

Back in Calgary later in the week, he shared stories of his trip with fellow residents of the Colonel Belcher Retirement Residence.

Another big moment had come when he received a handwritten note from the man who wrote and directed Dunkirk.

“Oh, from Christopher Nolan?” fellow resident Pat Johnston said. “Hey, that’s fabulous!”

The note from Nolan read:

“Dear Ken,
Your remarks do us a great honour, of which we feel unworthy, but very grateful.
It was been a great honour to work on this great subject. Thank you for your service.
Christopher Nolan.”

“All your stories that you tell are just amazing,” fellow resident Jill Brown said, “and this really puts the icing on the cake!”

“That’ll be a keepsake for a long time!” fellow resident Don Tough said.

“Oh, it certainly is,” Sturdy said. “I will treasure that card.”

Watch below from July 24:The full interview with 97-year-old Ken Sturdy, a veteran of the Dunkirk invasion, after seeing the Christopher Nolan film about the Second World War battle.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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