While at the University of Surrey, Gosport-based Louise Helyer heard of Donald Hill, an RAF pilot who recorded his experiences as a prisoner of war in a coded diary.
Her lecturer, Dr Philip Aston, had decoded the Second World War pilot’s diary and Louise saw the story of the decoding had been turned into a book, The Code of Love.
Now the budding playwright has transformed the story for the stage, and it’s being performed at Thorngate Halls, Gosport, from tonight until Saturday.
The 24-year-old says: ‘I always wanted to write a musical, but it was about finding a story that inspired me. I love the idea of a diary connecting two men that are 50 years apart.’
The musical follows Donald, who trained at the Gosport Aerodrome, and his romance with Pamela Kirrage, who he met at the RAF 21st anniversary dance in 1939.
But the young pilot was posted to Hong Kong, and after the British surrendered to the Japanese in 1941 – that’s when he began his diary.
But by the end of the war, and six years away from Pamela, he forgot how to decode his words. After his death, Pamela took the diary to Dr Aston and they discovered it’s secrets – the keyword was Donald Samuel Hill Pamela Seely Kirrage.
‘It’s not just the story of Donald,’ explains Louise, ‘but the story of Philip Aston and how Pamela brings the diary to him to decode. The musical is about how the diary came about and what happened at the time, and how it was decoded 10 years after Donald died.
‘It jumps back and forth through both of the stories. I’m excited to see it when the run starts.’
Tickets: £5 to £6 on (07789) 793895 or go to thecodeoflovemusical.com.