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Apr 30 11 7:50 AM

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Reading one of Sue Reltons' messages she touched on an aspect of being an ex NCH person which has intrigued me over the years. I firmly beleive we should be very proud that we were brought up by NCH and cared for so well. But I know I didn't always think like this. 
For many years (say 20 or more) I would tell nobody about NCH and would always refer to my family in East Yorkshire and Harrogate was only referred to as being where I went to School. I suppose there was a touch of arrogance coming out here as I obviously wanted people to think well of me and perhaps intuitively I thought they would look down on me if I told them I had been brought up in an orphanage.
I think my change of attitude developed when I became a father and especially  in 1976 when we moved into a house in Pannal with three boys aged 10, 9 and 9 and I was able to take them to see Fairfield and introduce them to Sister Edith and others.Mr Roycroft had moved on to Harpenden by then but I seem to remember Mr Niven was in post at the time and I found him to be a warm-hearted man.
Anyway, coming back to the central thrust of this article, I really do feel proud to be an old-boy and very pleased to be able to communicate with other "Boys and Girls" some of who I was actually a contemporary and others who came after us but have the same heart warming memories of Fairfield etc.It will be very interesting to hear other peoples views on my question - Are you proud of your time in NCH?

David Green

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philip

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Apr 30 11 8:23 AM

After leaving care, until my 30s, I would have been totally ashamed to let anyone know I had ever been in the NCH, it was more to having been in care rather than the NCH, but just the words 'Children's Home or Orphanage' would have made me feel ashamed of three years of my life in care.
After leaving the NCH and going to three more schools until I was 16, none of my friends knew that I had been in care.
At the age of 11, my senior school headmaster got to know I had been in care due to a visit to the school by The Child Care Officer, who gave him information about my past years, he probably passed this info onto the staff, but it was never known to any of the pupils.
At school when there were charity collection on behalf of the NCH, Barnordos etc did I cringe about something getting mentioned during lessons or the like. The biggest problem was trying to hide three years life in front of my friends, to me it just felt that there was a three year gap in my life.

Only when I obtained  my file years later, did I speak out and tell others I had been in care, from this point on I was not ashamed of spending time in care.
It is more with educating the general public, that life in care, is not like a Victorian orphanage, other than possibly a bit harsher treatment, our lives were the same as an ordinary child.
The more publictity I can generate for Ex Children who have been in care, the better things can be. There are still many Ex NCH children who will never speak out, but slowly a few open up and comes to terms with the fact that they had been in care.


Philip

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dianaw

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Apr 30 11 9:35 AM

Philip & David, I had exactly the same feelings as you both, even though I've never left Harrogate.  If anyone asked me where I lived I used to say Pannal Ash Road.  I've mentioned before the stigma I felt having been brought up 'in care' & certainly felt like a 2nd class citizen.  It was only when I was older & my girls were growing up I realised I was copying lots of the good traditions we used to have in No.2, like the egg painting etc.  I also found out what a hard life my Sister had at 11years old living at home in Surrey & looking after an invalid mother with absolutely no money.  I then started to realise how lucky I had been. My sister had no childhood, scruffy clothes, starved & had the stigma of no Father around, whilst I had my sisters & brothers in No. 2, the friendship of the other kids & the love & care of Sister Edith.  You are so right Philip when you say 'it is more with educating the general public'.

My Mother eventually died when I was 14, but had been ill since I was 2 & taken to Ashfield Baby Home.  In that time she had suffered 4 strokes.
love Di  

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royl

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Apr 30 11 1:17 PM

     I  have never felt it necessry to hide the fact I had been brought up in a children's Home. At school at Manland we almost wore the status as a badge rather than be ashamed. Due to the large numbers of us the knowledge of our backgrounds was general.  We did have problems with boys from a nearby village but I think that was because they like us were an identifiable grouping and therfore territorial.       When I went on to Technical College where my background was not known, others showed an interest in 'what it was like' but no anti feelings were displayed. This is where I realised that to outsiders the expression 'childrens home' meant 'orphans' and they found it difficult to percieve a situation where you had a parent, you were not guilty of any crime and yet you lived in care.  In my case educating the public started at an early age.
        In my first life away from Harpenden I had been 'handed over'  to a Methodist Church in Windsor. They made contact very quickly  and soon found myself giving a talk to a small number of ladies. At the end of this I was asked whether I had any regrets or was happy with my lot.  It was at this time that I realised that I had been fairly treated, well looked after and given every reasonable opertunity by the NCH.  Following this I have always been proud to be ex-NCH and been prepared to declare it,it has never done me any harm.

Roy

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Apr 30 11 1:18 PM

HI Philip, David and Diana,
I didn't tell anyone I had been in the NCH for many many years.  Only my closest family knew, and even then I didn't talk about it much.  I certainly didn't mention it in my efforts at a career, (absolutely NOT something you'd put on a CV!) and I only let it be known to my current colleagues when I went to the reunion at Harpenden last year!
Moving to the States when I was 38 helped to put it even more behind me.  It wasn't til I started having to deal with my oldest son's mental illness (another one of those things about which there is much societal stigma and shame) that I started getting to grips with what the truth is about life, and how important it was to get real with things.  Keeping a journal helped me with this process, along with getting counselling, and working with groups that shared issues to do with broken childhoods, alcoholism and other addictions, and of course, mental illness. It was all a mirror for my own issues, of course.
I am so glad and thankful that the forum happened (thank you Philip!), and that I was able to come back around to realising that my years in the NCH were after all very significant and good, and that it made me who I am (for better or worse!), and able to appreciate a lot of things!  And yes, it is a lot about education.  Educating ourselves, educating the public, and advocating for people who need help in being accepted.  I think things are better now than they used to be, but there's still a long way to go, especially regarding education, and even more, funding programs that can bring all this buried stuff to the healing light of day!
I'm grateful to you all for the sharing that happens on this forum (and the fun!) and the amazing chance to get together again in an intentional way.
As T.S. Eliot put it so well:
"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started from, and know the place for the first time."
It's truly amazing.
Best to all,
Shelagh


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Apr 30 11 2:57 PM

I never had any negative feelings about being brought up in the NCH  either when I was a child or after I'd left.  
It all seemed very normal to me, and it didn't have any effect on my relationship with childhood friends who lived outside in ordinary family homes.   Any feelings of unworthiness or inferiority stemmed from the attitude of my own family, who insisted on calling it  'boarding school.'  The only time I really felt any stigma was quite recently, which I put in a previous posting, when somebody compared the NCH to an approve school or Borstal,  implying that my reason for being placed there was because I had committed an offense  ( at eighteen months old ? ! )
Jennifer

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#6 [url]

Apr 30 11 3:58 PM

    On reflection, I think my family must have been in denial about my situation.  They were happy for me to have been taken into care, but couldn't bring themselves to say that I was in an orphanage or a children's home.  
I expect it made them feel a whole lot better about themselves if they could convince themselves I was at some sort of  'school'  because it somehow seems to sound better and relieves them of any feelings of guilt and responsibility.
Jennifer





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Apr 30 11 4:32 PM

Having known no other childhood, arriving at Ashfield house at age 14 months, I felt no stigma whatsoever. Truth is I wore my upbringing like a badge of honor. My first two years after Harrogate were spent in Chester as an apprentice Carpenter. I was in lodgings and social contact was limited. I did have a brush with trouble there when a fellow Apprentice mocked where I was brought up and he received a "Glasgow kiss", for his cheek. Not my proudest moment, but the feeling of satisfaction, Oh Yes!. From then on whenever upbringing arose and I mentioned  the Childrens Home it was met with either, a surprised and clearly offended, "OH", or a pitying, "Arrrrr". This was followed by my reply of, "A child could not have had a better upbringing", I would then proceed to tell them what we had in terms of playing fields, orchards, pressies, loving care, the teaching of respect and values, until there attitude clearly changed. My presentation of the Home got better when I came to Canada, and as I managed to rise through the ranks in my work and met with various Mayors and then Ministers of Government, it became a joy to tell them the tale, (If the topic was raised, as it so often was). One Minister of Health was clearly impressed and somewhat bemoaned the state of the fostering system and it's sometimes greedy participants.
Surfice to say, My raising in The National Childrens Home is a source of great pride to me and is something I will defend forever.
Take care
Malc

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Apr 30 11 7:03 PM

Hi David,
I was at Harrogate from February 1946 to December 29th 1959. I was at Ashfield house until I was three, then #1, Rowanlea, with Sister Beth Heggie. Yes it was after Di, she is just a tiny tiny bit my senior.
Take Care
Malc

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#10 [url]

Apr 30 11 7:40 PM

Hi David,
I've just remembered--there WAS one funny little episode whilst I was very young at Harpenden, when I demonstrated unequivocal loyalty to the NCH!  I had been invited out for a day with Lady Someone-or -other, in a posh house, and must have picked up on something a bit snobby or fake about her.  She apparently asked me if we ever get roast beef at the Home.  I replied with great enthusiasm, apparently, that we had it all the time!  Sister Cora recounted this episode for me later, with great relish.  And I felt quite chuffed.
Shelagh

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Apr 30 11 7:59 PM

I used to be ashamed to have been in the NCH, but not till about 10 years ago, now looking back, yes im proud to have been there.
 I must be honest, i look at some kids today, and think they would be better off in care, taught respect, manners etc, and all the other things the NCH used to "drill" into us.
 While i was at Scarborough, i was a bit of a loner when i went to school(Westwood County Modern),just over Valley Bridge.My form teacher thought i was a model pupil(till he caught me smoking in the boys toilets),he used to keep military swords hung on the wall, and the punishment was getting six of the best on the backside with one of these in front of class, humiliating or what?, didnt stop me tho.
 But to get back to the NCH, we were asked to do an essay of our younger life, well i didnt hold back, told it all,apart from the abuse i think. Well, the following week he took mke to his class and explained how moved he was to have read my life story so to speak, and he remarked that if he knew i was in care, hge would have given me a different topic.I wasnt having that, i think i said something along the lines of "well it isnt my fault, and im looking after my 3 sisters".
 From then on, i think he had a different opinion of me, as he seemed to treat me different from the rest, lookig back, i do believe it was the stigma attached to it.
 I just got on with it, fought my corner, and came 4th top of class(as previously stated, a letter from (and i was rightly corrected) a Mr Jacka).
 So i dont have any problem telling anyone, the more people that know the better, as Philip rightly states, we need to let more people aware there isnt a stigma..


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Apr 30 11 10:59 PM

As a PS to my previous post. I can recall what I considered my best 'put down'. A rather self important official of the Provincial Govenment here in BC was amongst a group of us after a conference and around the table, as it turns out were four different nationalities, therefore the topic of where/when etc came up. Having finished my tale the man , "Remarked superciliously, "Well youv''e done quite well considering your upbringing". A pause from everyone and then I calmly said, "It would appear so, a better upbringing  perhaps than your own, as mine didn't include, Bias, Bigotry or Disrespect towards other people". He arose and left. I was proud of that moment as were the others around the table. Better than my early days and the Glasgow Kiss eh?.
Take Care
Malc 

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May 1 11 11:32 AM

Sue, im pleased you proved them wrong, i can recall when i was at Scarborough, when we stayed at Harpenden overnight in one of the houses, (no idea which number i stayed at), but there was quite a few Black people staying there. I didnt bat an eyelid, even tho we didnt have any Black boys or girls at May Lodge.
 I got on fantastic with all the residents, no matter what their skin colour. A few months before i left May Lodge, we had a Black girl (Jenny) come to stay, not sure of her surname, but what a lovely girl she was.
 I do believe that people once again stigmatise, HOW WRONG IS THIS...
 In my job at Cardiff, im a Scheme Manager for a Housing Association, we have multi culture here, it doesnt matter 1 iota to me what colour skin people have, they are all EQUAL, and will remain so till i die...
 So Sue, you turned it around and good for you...keep smiling, and thank you for sharing..
 Take Care

John


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dianaw

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May 1 11 4:28 PM

Morning young Malcolm,  Good on you, I'm proud of you.
love Di

P.S. Another 4 coming to our reunion.  Alan Huxwell with 3 guests. That makes it about 30, & when Extended News comes out it could be a lot more.  Yipee. 

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May 1 11 6:24 PM

Sue, 
During the time I was in number seven we had a black friend next door called Elizabeth Anderson.   We liked her because of her character and personality, and never gave a thought to the colour of her skin.
Jennifer
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philip

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May 1 11 8:03 PM

Sue,
This was where I was lucky in 1968 when place in a flat at Highfield, I was put into flat 1 with Sister Pearl. There were three other boys in the flat, all older than I was.
There was no racial problems between any of us four boys, only other than very minor banter, and I noticed no hint at all of any racism from the staff or the three girls that we shared the flat with. The two eldest boys had been looked after by Sister Pearl since they were very young, so they looked on her as if she was their own mother.
Possibly ours was the only flat like it at Higfield over our 'shade mix', there was Tommy a well built of West-Indian parentage, Noel of Black African origin, so dark that Pearl joked that at night if there were no lights, he should keep smiling so that we could still him, it was hunmour of the day, and no racism was there, in fact he took it as making him special, Lenton with similar looks to myself but with short curly hair, and myself, as Mr Roycroft noted in an early report "Half-Indian".
So flat 1 was a perfect haven where there was no form of colour prejudice at all, even the three white girls in the flat took us to be that we were just children.
If there was an problem, it was when we were out of the grounds, if us four boys were in the shops together, shop staff watched us like hawks, (possibly for good reason) we had to be from the local children's home.
So for my childhood, other than a short time in a North  London school where I just was part of the vast melting pot, in the Home was one place where I was just an ordinary boy, and colour did not mater at all......

Philip

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May 3 11 11:32 PM

Hi Philip,
You've just given me a laugh. You used the phrase, "some of the ordinary children". and it set me off because here we are talking about others calling us "Home kids", "Orphanage kids" etc and yet we had no qualms about using that the terms, "Ordinary kids" or "Outside kids", and sometimes not so nice references. We really were a clan unto ourselves wern't we, I love it!.

While I'm on, Western Primary had a teacher called Mrs Spears, a rather large severe woman who stood no nonsense. It was the last day of school before christmas and she stood at the classroom door and told us to line up. she then handed each child a sweet as he/she left the classroom, except that if it was "a homes kid", she muttered, "back of the line", and in full humiliation each of is did so. Then she had the six of us left to pass her sweetie handout. I say with great pride, everyone one of us passed right by her with a loud clear, "Yer can keep yer sweets", Then as a group, turned and thumbed our noses at her with a very loud six toned "Raspberry". For some reason there was no recrimination from her the next term.
Dont yer love kids that stick up for themselves
Take care
Malc

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philip

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May 4 11 12:36 PM

Sue,
I think your mother paid rather a lot for the contrat tax of 10/-, my mother was just asked to pay 6d (I must be an economy version) My mothers wages were £4 per week - the NCH wanted half of her weeks wages for looking after me.

The payments to the NCH of £2 per week (I cost the NCH £3 per week) were all met, but it relied on her two sisters paying her to look after their grandmother, so the payments came in batches, at the end she overpaid by three days, so I've got three days of NCH food to eat up, I will use the London reunions for that.

Philip



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philip

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May 4 11 1:11 PM

The odd item in our contracts was over our removal by a parent (if they had piut the child in care), which would not have applied to the majority of NCH children that were placed in care by the local authority.
With the effect that they had to give one months notice before removal of the child or pay a sum equal to £3 per week for the total weeks that the child less the amount already paid to the NCH.

At the point near to when I left, when my mother was undecided if I should return to the NCH after a Christmas holiday, or stay with her, as I was now un happy at living at Highfield.  If I had not gone back, although my mother had kept up to date with all her payments, there was the sum of the £1 per week that had come out of the NCH charity fund to top up my payments, they could have asked her to pay that. My mother would not have been able to afford £150 back in 1967, in todays terms that would be the equiv of around £3,000.
I stayed in the NCH for two more months, whilst the Gov. at Harpenden (was making plans for removing me).
---
"

I declare that the said child enters the National Children’s Home and Orphanage. I hereby agree that the Principal of the Home is duly authorised shall have the custody care and control.
I shall not remove the child from the Home without giving at least one calendar month’s notice in writing (unless the Principal shall consent otherwise in writing) pay to the Home any monies then owing by me to the Home in respect of the said child. That if required by notice of the Principal to do so I will at my own expense remove the said child from the Home within one calendar month after the date of such a notice. That if I shall commit any breach of the forgoing provisions I will forthwith pay to the Home the amount expended in the upbringing of the said child as an ascertained debt calculated at the rate of Three Pounds for each week of the period during which the said child shall have been in residence at any branch of the Home, subject to the deduction from the amount so calculated of any sums paid by me to the Home in respect of the said child."

--------
Philip

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