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#61 [url]

Mar 31 11 3:43 PM

hi john,welcome to the forum. I am positive you will find it totally uplifting & addictive.We all have our hang-ups & memories good & bad about our time 'in care' but believe me , as they say, 'every cloud has a silver lining' & we are all here for each other & nothing you say can shock or suprise! hope you keep in touch & find peace & closure . Am still waiting for my file. It takes a few months apparently but I am looking forward to finding a few answers. Hang in there, you've found a shed load of new friends now. Love Dot xx

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#62 [url]

Mar 31 11 5:15 PM

I can imagine exactly how you felt when that person  said  " Have you been a naughty girl ?"  Some years ago I traced my father,  who turned out to be the most insensitive and ignorant philistine.  I discovered that I also had five siblings who knew all about me, but had never attempted to contact me or communicate with me.  In conversation my father referred to my childhood in  "Borstal " and when I corrected him and told him in fact it was a  CHILDREN'S  HOME,  he replied  " Same difference !"

Needless to say,  I havn't communicated with him since then, but it makes me wonder just what impression he gave about me to his other children.



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#63 [url]

Mar 31 11 7:27 PM

You know Jennifer you're worth a million of them.  It makes me weep at the insensitiveity of some mindless people.

On a lighter note, today one of our Grand-daughters called round with our Great Grandson. He is 9 months old & was born prematurely at 26 weeks, weighing only 2lb 1oz.  The special care baby unit at Jimmy;s in Leeds & Harrogate were wonderful.  He is now crawling, trying to stand & chuckles away, such a joy.  
love Di

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#64 [url]

Apr 1 11 10:48 AM

Thank You all for your kind replies and more welcomes,i really feel part of it now(this site), and a personal thank you to Philip for creating it, I watched the second half last night of Kid In Care, and realised im not/wasnt the only one who suffered/still does, from a lot of the things he highlighted.
 I just wished maybe he could have gone further in depth, and if one thing comes from it, i sincerely hope it removes the stigma attached.
 One piece of news i received this morning, was that the NSPCC, have no records of me prior to going into care, the question has to be asked...WHY, i was told and i quote, prior to 2003, most files would heve been destroyed.Do these people not realise what archiving is?. Do they not have a Legal duty to keep these for a specified number of years?.Im interesting to see what fellow members say on this subject.
 So no closure for me on that front, as i wait for the post with the form to access my records from NCH,(action for children), i can only hope they would have my files.
 Im bitterly disappointed to say the least, as they would have been the most important of the two.
But nothing i can do now except put it away at the furthest part of my mind, and get on with life, and when (hopefully) i get my File from Scarborough, i can look at it with happy memories, ok, maybe a couple of tantrums i had, but nothing serious.
 One thing this site has taught me already is, im not alone, we have all been through the system so to speak, some good, some bad, but i know whatever i print here, someone will relate to it, and there is always a sympathetic ear to rely on so to speak.
 So keep up the good work people, and lets try and broaden the width of this site, the more people we can get to join, the more friends created.
Can anyone remeber the name of the book the guy wrote who Neil Morrisey chatted to last night?, i dont know about you, but i could see and sense his emotions talking about his time, it sure got to me, My wife was watching it with me, and i hope this has given her a small insight as to the pain and anguish we suffered.
 So thank you all again and look forward to reading your replies


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#65 [url]

Apr 3 11 12:24 PM

Hi there again John, well you certainley have started the ball rolling like Dot said this site is like a drug it is totally uplifting and very addictive, i can remember my first encounter it was when Phillip started the site growigupinthench[ Mutliply] and my first message was from Shelagh who i had not seen or heard from for over 50 years to say i was gobsmacked would be an under statement, and then to meet up with her in 2010 at our reunion was the icing on the cake but not just Shelagh there were many others that i had seen or heard from for as many years. i very much doubt that even Phillip could have anticipated the kind of response the site has had and i am sure we have a lot more to come, not only do we have the oppertunity to share our own experiences we can share others, not just ex NCH but anyone who has been in care if they so wish.
           But that was not enough for our Phillip with the help of AZU and co set up a yearly reunion at the Harpenden Branch which has been ongoing for the last 3 years and the beauty of Harpenden is that geographically its as it was when we left and we can still wonder around the grounds with its fields and woods and reminisce of times gone by good and bad and in my case much more good than bad, and with the help of Jeff and co have managed to get the Chapel organ going were many of us would have spent many an hour in the choir it went down great last year, we are hoping for a few more this year.and so  as Jeff said plenty of banter, great food and a beer or two.
       I was sorry to hear that the NSPCC had destroyed your records one has to question why. I am sure you will get them from Scarborough it may take some time i know it toke me a few months but it was worth the wait, it certainley filled in a lot of the blanks for me, so you may have to be patient,
            I too watched the Neil Morrisey documentary thought it was very good but like you that he could have gone into more depth but the fact that he is in the public  eye it may have defused a lot of the stigma which has for so long been attached too kids in care.
      Well John its great having you on the site and keep the messages coming stay wel,l best regards from a new mate Bertie B

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Posts: 251

#66 [url]

Apr 6 11 9:22 AM

Dear John,

I recently saw your message and apologise for the delay in replying as I have been abroad.  Welcome to the site.

I missed the Neil Morrisey programme and trust it will be repeated in the near future.  It is good that the programme enabled you to express your feelings. 

Congratulations on doing well at school and the letter you received would have been from Mr Alan A Jacka OBE, MA, the Education Secretary at NCH Highbury.

With regard to the NCH Royal Centenary Celebration held at the Royal Albert Hall on 12 April 1969, after a hard fight in an exciting ‘five-a-side’ football final, Brackley beat Alresford by one goal to nil.  World Cup referee Stanley Lover supervised the game, and at the close the Duchess of Gloucester met the team and presented the cup to Brackley.


Best wishes,


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#67 [url]

Apr 7 11 11:46 AM

Thank you for the welcome Clive, i hope you had a nice time abroad.
 its nice that people can remember the centenery,if memory serves, i was sittinf to the laft rear of the organ in the R A H. I must confess being a bit of a softie, (you may remember this), at the closing ceremony, there was a little girl with just the spotlight on her, im not sure if the Duchess of Kent greeted her, i suppose the shining light was to symbolise what the NCH stood for.
I suppose at 15, i was finding my way in the world, but can look back on it, as mostly happy times in care.
 One i do remember, was the Head of May Lodge, (a Mr Stephenso), took some of the boys to a football game, was Leeds United versus Tottenham. He being a Leeds supportr, we duly queued at the turnstile waiting our turn, and HE was the one pushing and (digging) people to get out the way, this the same guy who told us to be on our best behaviour, I do believe jimmy greaves was playing for Spurs then.
 We went camping on afew occasions to Bridlington, not very exciting, but i can recall the only time i got aggressive was when some boy(cant recall name), slapped me on back of upper thigh with a wet flipper, wow does that sting, no pocket money for John that week.
 Things are coming back with time, im sure there will be lots more i can relate to from posts on here.
 Keep posting people, and keep expanding

Take Care


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Posts: 251

#68 [url]

Apr 7 11 4:33 PM

7 April 2011

Dear John,


The Duchess of Gloucester honours us with Her Presence

Family News from the National Children’s Home June 1969

Thanks for your message and I thought you might like this account of the Centenary Celebration which was published in the NCH Family News magazine.

A fanfare heralded the arrival of Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Gloucester on Saturday, 12th April, for the Centenary Celebration of the National Children’s Home.  The vast auditorium was filled with the Home’s friends, including many present and ex-staff, many of whom had travelled great distances to be present.  The programme, introduced by Eric Blennerhassett, provided us with an evening of fast moving and smoothly directed entertainment, both serious and gay.

It began very fittingly with a portrayal of the beginnings of the Home with ‘Dr Stephenson’ taking pathetic urchins from their hiding places in barrels and boxes to the security of a true Home at No 8 Church Street, Lambeth.  Next we saw the boys earning money by selling fire-wood from a cart drawn by a very realistic-looking donkey!  Following this scene we were brought right up to date as we watched the arena become filled with the present-day occupants of the NCH – girls and boys of all sorts and sizes, some in Brownie uniform, some skipping, hopping, jumping, playing games and generally enjoying themselves.  Nursery nurses were there and, not least, children from Chipping Norton who brought with them their own special mechanical aids which helped them to join this great throng of lively girls and boys and young people.

Later, there were glimpses of the life and varying activities of these modern children, beginning with the difficulties of rousing heavy sleepers, with accompanying pillow fights and lively bathroom noises!   


The Brackley Folk-Dance Team then ‘rehearsed’ for a country dance display in readiness for a Festival.  This was accompanied by the boys’ band of the Pilgrim School, Bedford.  We not only thoroughly enjoyed the skill and grace of the dancers (trained by Mrs W T Clark) but also the attractive appearance of the young people.  The Painswick Branch staged their famous mock boxing tournament, which must have made the Marquis of Queensbury turn in his grave.  The two unlikely contestants (with ‘Killer’ and ‘Tiger’ on their bath robes) gave us a few minutes of hilarious comedy.  Sport of a more serious kind was to come when, after a hard fight in an exciting ‘five-a-side’ football final, Brackley beat Alresford by one goal to nil.  World Cup referee Stanley Lover supervised the game, and at the close the Duchess of Gloucester met the team and presented the cup to Brackley.  Her Royal Highness was interested to hear of the Brackley Branch which is near her own home.  A team of boys from Danesford School, Congleton, then showed us how incredible agility, controlled movement and a touch of comedy can make a gymnastic display high entertainment.


Two very necessary aspects of life of the Home – money raising and an aid to families in danger of collapse – were depicted for us.  Young people from Princess Alice School took us back to Victorian times when money was raised by using the children in travelling concert parties.  Friends from the Northwood Drama Group gave us some typical reactions to the modern methods of collecting for charitable organizations.  An unusual and moving ballet and mime presented by the ‘Rodlovas’ under the direction of Hilda Rodl, showed tragedy striking an ordinary family and how help given in the right way can keep a family together.


NCH owes much to friends from the world of entertainment who give of their time and talent to serve the Home.  Several of these friends were welcomed as guest artists – Percy Edwards turned the Albert Hall temporarily into Noah’s Ark with his animal impressions; Bob Arnold, ‘Tom Forrest’ of ‘The Archers’ brought greetings from his Ambridge friends; Cyril Jackson had the audience clapping to the music of his One-Man Band.  In place of Johnny Morris (who unfortunately had been admitted to hospital the day before) we welcomed the extremely funny comedian George Martin.


And so to the finale – Ray Browne (an old boy of the Harpenden Branch) pointed us from the past to the future – to the next 100 years of NCH and to the possibility of overseas expansion.  We then heard a Toccata especially composed for the occasion by Paul Wright (the youngest organist ever to play on the Albert Hall organ).  Finally as the arena thronged with children, through their midst walked a solitary child.  We did not know her name or her story but as the Principal (the Rev John W Waterhouse OBE, MA, BD) greeted her with outstretched arms and the great audience sang ‘Now thank we all our God’, the words ‘Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth Me’ came to us with a fresher and deeper significance.  The Celebration for a Century of Caring for children had come to a fitting close.    


J. J.
Mr and Mrs E F Stephenson left the Scarborough Branch in March 1969 and were replaced by Mr and Mrs D T Graham.  They had a son and daughter, Ian and Lesley.
Best wishes,

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#69 [url]

Apr 7 11 10:30 PM

Hi Clive
Thanks for posting the above account of the Centenary celebrations. This is the first I have heard or seen of it and I find it to be an excellent report.   Those of you who took part must have fealt rather special and are to be envied and in some cases congratulated albeit rather late.


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#70 [url]

Apr 8 11 9:52 AM

Hi sweety,
Yes you do learn to love, more so I think, you have to get past that walled in thing, think of it this way
do you really want your children to feel cut off from you, i know with my two kids,i gave them all the love, I was deprived of. I needed to make sure, they never felt like i had. That was hard to do being a teenage  mother, and i probably didnt get it right most of the time, But they have grown up, and each in their own way,has made me very proud of them. My son, was a rebel, think he takes after me, my daughter ,well she wont take any nonsense from anyone,lol.

I found it terribly hard to accept reactions from members of my family, yes sometimes i became over defensive,i suppose i expected them to know how i felt, i became a wild child in my teens,as a lash back from the home years,nobody was ever going to tell me what I could and couldnt do, Relationships, yes went through a few, and got hurt, but went on,some time in your life, you have to learn, how to like yourself sweety, One thing i learnt, Unless you learn to love yourself, how can you really pass that onto others. I adore my sisters,brother, my family. But they cant make right what went wrong, Only I can.
Hugs sweety. learn to love yourself a little, then pass that onto those you love.

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#71 [url]

Sep 15 11 9:08 PM

Hi, I'm trying to navigate the site so apologies if  this message is name's Pauline and my birth name was Pauline Devlin; I was in Sheringham in 1964 but I don't know for how long, as I was an infant adoptee. As I said in another post I came across this site by chance whilst studying disorganised attachment as part of an OU course which made me reflect on my beginings and googled for info.  I was suprised to see that it was NCH home having perceived that it was catholic run and from the postings I see the references to 'sisters' so wonder if my initial beliefs were true..anyway I was adopted and although I have a great relationship with my adopted dad I felt from mid-childhood that I was sitting on a fence looking in at another family ( my adoptive parents and their natural daughter born after I'd been adopted0. I also wonder how easily it really is to attach to a child how ever much you desperately want one when you have then have to acknowledge the great loss of not being able to have your own and also how extended family accept a non-biological niece, cousin, grandaughter etc. I went onto have ten children myself and acknowledge that there must be an interplay between this and my adoption as well as a second rejection when I managed to contact my biological mother aged 16 who wanted to protect her standing in the community above me; that was and continues to be very painful.. I was adopted because of catholic standards, brought up as a catholic and my first marriage to a non-- catholic was in a catholic church; by chance my second marriage was to a catholic and ironically as he hadn't previously been married in a catholic church despite 2 divorces he could  marry in church but because I had I couldn't! With the exception of my eldest child  who was already at secondary school all of my children have received some education at a  catholic primary school ranging from 1yr to 7yrs (the youngest two still do) I'm not an active church goer but my youngest son wants to be an alter server so the whole catholic/adoption conection is rekindled through every medium and now unwittingly through my studies..and I feel upset that I have parts of my history missing, whilst aware many others would be grateful for that...I'll stop waffling

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#73 [url]

Oct 11 11 8:48 PM

Hello Pauline,
I've only just spotted you on here and I wonder if you have the right Childrens' Home in Sheringham. As your past seems predominantly Catholic, you may not know that there was a Catholic Childrens' Home..St. Joseph' Sheringham too. They were along the Cromer Road & at times, their children & us would go to each others' Homes for tea.
The Sisters in NCH (Methodists) were Ordained into the Sisterhood of the then National Children's Homes (and Orphanage),  and though they had a uniform for those special dates & Sundays, they wore ordinary clothes generally.
The other thing which makes me wonder is that we didn't have 'infants' as such..never babies under a year old..probably 18 months & above.
Stay in touch if you like..we can probably point you in the right direction if you feel 'lost'! Us NCHers are all 'family'. Contact NCH Records Dept; initially to see if they have a record of you. If not, The Catholic Church have their own adoption records & I do have an address for them!
All good wishes
Ann Shirley

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#74 [url]

Feb 5 12 9:42 PM

Well here goes! my name is Alison. I was born Shirley in 1968 and was at Alverstoke for a mere 5 months before I was adopted.
My birth father was Terry Steggall, whom I beleave a few of you are familiar with as he was at Highfield from a very early age, probably in 1952 until he left aged 18.
Having googled his name with Highfield just before Christmas i discovered that he had passed away in tragic circumstances at just aged 19 in 1971.
I have since made contact with Terry's neice and his Brother whom are the nearest I will ever get to him. They were also unaware of my existance as some of you may or may not be.
Some of you have left comments on here already and I thank you for your kind words, It appears I missed out on meeting a gentle, top man!!
On Thursday I go to view his file and have already been told of my rather unique circumstances. I am very sad and am struggling with the loss.  I hope that on Thursday I shall receive comfort and help.
I welcome anybody's comments, memories, thoughts of Terry, conversations, anything you may be able to recollect happy or sad.
Thank you Philip for this forum, without which I would not have found my other half which has been missing.

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#75 [url]

Feb 6 12 1:04 PM

HI Alison!
I wish I could say that I remember your father--Terry Steggall--since I was at Harpenden, too.  But I left there around 1952, so we may not have had much crossover time, if any.
It must be very sad for you to have to come across his death like that, and I hope you make connections with people who remember him.
Good luck with getting the files, and I hope that helps to settle some things about him and for yourself.
I have a niece who was adopted away from the family, and she too is busy trying to put the pieces together of who she really is and where she came from.  It is a struggle for her as we have not yet been able to identify her birth father.  But those of us on her mother's side are doing the best we can to fill her in, and she has become a much-loved member of the family.  We may never know "the whole story", but we can become the whole person we want to be anyway, and make a good life out of what we do have.
There's a line from a poem by the American poet Theodore Roethke that I have always loved:
"What falls away is always, and is near"
In other words, nothing and no one is completely lost.
Best wishes,

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#76 [url]

Dec 3 12 9:05 PM

Hi Phillip
I think we may have been neighbours as I was in flat 3 with Sister Ella, next door upstairs flat. There was a door in the main living room between the flats (always kept locked) which always fascinated me, how kids love anything like that.
I left in 1967 and was then fostered.

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#77 [url]

Dec 3 12 11:51 PM

On our side of the door was a heavy blanket curtain, I don't know if it was meant to hide the sound of us to your flat or yours to ours.
This was the fire door, although it seemed to have been locked (from your side), a good shove and it would have opened.
We were under pain of death from Sister Pearl not to go near to the door, even when Sister Rosemary (Miss Foal) took over before we all moved downstairs, the door area was to be kept away from.
On very odd occasions Sister Pearl went next door, I think it was to quieten you lot down.
At the age of eight, I was once told to take something to your Sister, I was in total fear when I went through the door. I did not really know what other flats were really like, although we all played outside together, Sister Pearl normally banned us from going into any of the other 20 flats and those children were banned from entering our domain.
Were our flats different?

Philip 1965-1968

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#78 [url]

Dec 4 12 6:11 PM

Hi Phillip
I remember Sister Kathleen downstairs in flat 4 had a huge rocking horse, how I wanted that horse in our flat, I got to ride it a few times, so must have been in there more than once, also visiting the Turners (not sure what flat no.), again on more than one occasion, but generally I don't think we did mix much unless the Sister's were especially friendly.

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Posts: 1,128

#79 [url]

Dec 4 12 11:17 PM

Hi Lucy,
                   Were the Turners  known as Pop and Mrs T.   They were running my last house Ashcroft before it was converted to flats. The Turners  had a daughter Susan, who poor girl, from the age of two, grew up in a family exclusively comprised of teenage boys.  Susan would have been about  8 yrs old in 1960 and Ashcroft would have been converted by then.


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#80 [url]

Dec 5 12 6:36 PM

Hi Roy
I'm not sure, I just remember them as the Turners, I think there was a daughter though and she would have been about the age you say, I think they were in flat 7 or 8.
It might be an age thing, some memories are still crystal and others a bit more cloudy 

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