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Nov 23 11 4:54 PM

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Hi, I have just finished reading "Not without You" by Alan and Irene Brogan.
A most astonishing story about the authors lives in Homes during the late fifties/sixties and the effects on their later lives.

I found it hard to believe that things at that time were so bad but it is based on their factual experiences.
It is important to stress that none of the various Homes were NCHO run but I found their story very moving as much of it tallied closely to my early NCHO life and could help to explain my memories of my boyhood and why I hated that part of my life.

Those of you who experienced the Homes during the later more enlightened years will possibly find it a difficult story to believe and somewhat upsetting. If you decide to visit your library and have a go at reading this quite upsetting story,you would probably like to know that it is interwoven with a lovely tale of love, but be warned-have a large box of tissues handy before you settle down to read and DONT take it to bed as a before settling down to sleep tale.
Not for the faint hearted.
Regards. Norman

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#1 [url]

Nov 24 11 3:41 AM

Hello Norman, Having been in the NCH then moved to a local council run home I can relate to much of what is in this book. For most of ex NCH children the care given was love, understanding and guidance. In a council run home the house parent was there as an employee of the council, hardly a vocational setting. The regime I found was so much harder for the children, for some on the boundary of being subjects of cruelty by the staff. even greater if the house parents had children of their own shareing the house. I am proud to tell anyone I am ex NCH, but dread to think that they may hear I was also a council home child. The feeling of being tainted was huge.If the home ever had an open day, I would catch a bus going the oposite way as fast as possible.
If any member has doubts as to how lucky we all were being in the care of NCH, You must read this book... only then will you have something to compare your lives against. You will thank your lucky stars befor you reach page 9, trust me!

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#2 [url]

Nov 24 11 2:31 PM

Hi Norman, looking at this post from Bobbie leaves me in a bit of a dilemma.  when Bobby was transfered to the Council run home to 'Countersthorpe' Leicester (Council run home) I was already there. as was my elder sister ,'Judy'   Bobby would have been about 2yrs old? if not younger....No way would any child at that age remember 'Regime'.....
I remember that Council run home and cannot recall any abuse whatso ever...we were cared for...we were fed...we were clothed and went to school, daily...I find it impossible that Bobby has this book..or even read it!!...I don't give a damn wether any one knows that I was bought up in a childrens home..being council run or the NCH!!...Me..Judy...Garry...Patricia (Or has Bobby forgotten Pat) enjoyed our time at the NCH harpenden.

My point being....During our time at 'Countersthorpe' Or the NCH at Harpenden..Never, ever, was there any abuse towards us.   Jeff owen

P.S...I will not stand idly by and let anyone undermine the efforts of the NCH staff.. and the Sisters that cared for us.

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#3 [url]

Nov 24 11 2:58 PM

I think that Bobby has forgotten the 'Glorious holidays' that he had, (Every year) from Harpenden.
good friends
Sister Pearl
Sister Maureen (Down stairs)
The boys wood
The girls wood
The carpenters shop
The glorious Oval with three Elm trees
The total freedom to go where you wanted
The smokey 'Nicky Line'
The 'Cubs' (Oh, those 'Brownies')
What Christmas gave to us kids was out of this world...Father Christmas going around the Oval on his sleigh..with bells and cheer...waking up at the crack of dawn to see a bag of prezzies!! at the foot of our bed.
Sister Maureen and all the staff of the NCH..I wish you good health and cheer this Christmas....Jeff owen

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#5 [url]

Nov 24 11 3:45 PM

Hi Bobbie and Jeff,
                                    Are you discussing the same thing?     Bobbie says he is talking about a home he was sent to after the NCH  " Having been in the NCH then moved to a local council" etc.  Is this chronology correct or is Jeff's version of being in care before the NCH correct. On the other hand it may be that both are right. In any case I do not read Bobbie's post as being a criticism of the NCH at any point.  Please , if I have missed this point somehow, will someone enlighten me.

May I just suggest that the goodwill that the Christmas message carries be extended by all to all.


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#6 [url]

Nov 24 11 4:06 PM

Hi Roy was about to say the same I did not detect any criticism in Bobbies mail about the NCH the opposite in fact . I don't think they read the mail and digested it's content or may be I didn't comprehend correctly ,I am certainly going to try to get the book .  Regards to all   Malc S

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#7 [url]

Nov 24 11 4:42 PM

Hi malc and Roy, Bobby makes no criticism about harpenden at all..but the council run home at leicester..there was no problems at 'Countersthorpe' Leicester at point can a child of just 2 yrs old remember a 'regime'..not alone, read this 'Book'

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#9 [url]

Nov 24 11 6:09 PM

Hey oop chaps.
I seem to have opened a can of wriggly things?
Please do not translate my opening notes of describing the NCH as YOU knew it as bad.

I was referring to a book about two people shunted around several council run homes- staffed by what can only be thought of generally as Sadists, and the way their treament affected their early lives.

It is a shocking story fortunately with a happy ending. But as I said, it  makes for distressing reading and had a hardened old man-me- in tears several times.
For you lucky people who enjoyed time in the NCH this tale might well be viewed as "There, but by the grace of God" and thanks that by the time you were in NHO times and methods had changed so much then by my time there.
Please don't 'get at' members who do not have quite your experiences.

Either read the book and wonder what people used to be capable of or do not read it and save your tears.

Kind regards. Norman

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#10 [url]

Nov 24 11 6:25 PM

well spoken norman judy

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#11 [url]

Nov 24 11 10:46 PM

To all the members who read my post with their eyes wide open. Thank you.
I humbly ask all the members to forgive my brother for his rantings. maybe its an age thing that prevents him reading what is in the postings.
 Jeff seems to think as he is my brother he has licence to slate me on this forum for no reason. He can be very invidious to those that take the lime light away from him,even more so if it happens to be his baby brother.
I will point out to all jeff and I led very different lives in as much that:
We all went to the council home in Leicester (me 18mnth old) then on to Harpenden. Jeff stayed in the area after discharge from Harps , BUT I WAS RETURNED TO LEICESTER AT THE AGE 11YRS. As I stated in my post the regime was very different. I said the staff could be on the "boundary of cruelty" in their treatment to their charges, so where did jeff read "abuse" I have no idea.(again an age thing)
Well done jeff on your research, but you must have missed AMAZON.Ph. silly little man.
Will the members please read this with a pinch of salt. I am used to Jeff throwing his teddy out the pram when ever the spotlight moves away from JEFF OWEN.Organ builder extraordinare
On your grave it will read,"good with organs, bad with life"
For those who sent PMs about this post Thank you for your support.
Bobbie (boring old fart who likes to read books) from Amazon he he he!

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#12 [url]

Nov 25 11 1:49 AM

Oh by the way the book "Not without you" is available from ISBN#9780340976401.
postage "WORLD WIDE" 
it is also available via "KINDLE" or can be read direct on line.
What ever format you choose, you can get it WORLDWIDE, that is anywhere on earth NO MATTER WHAT.
have fun

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#13 [url]

Nov 25 11 1:11 PM

Thanks Judy.
Now I don't feel quite so much that I instigated nasty whatevers by opening this topic.

I suppose I should have thought more about the fact that it seems to be the majority of forum members are ex Harpenden from a seriously more enlightened age and there would be a chance that someone would read my opening notes as critical of the treatment they experienced in NCH.

Not meant like that as I'm sure you know.
Kind regards Norman 

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#14 [url]

Nov 25 11 4:43 PM

Hi Norm!
The book you mentioned sound interesting (if not easy) and I have it on my "to-read" list for sure.  Thanks for that. :-)   You had perfectly good intentions in telling us about it. I for one am grateful!
And no, not even Harpenden was 100% bliss!  If we are honest, I would think most of us would agree that, while we're thankful for what was done for us by the NCH, our experience as children was a mixed bag, wherever we were. There were differences between the various sisters, differences between the houses, differences between us, and differences depending on the time you were there. It doesn't detract from being grateful for the good stuff!  But for some, it wasn't always so very "good"!  Let's respect each other's different experiences.  It doesn't mean we have to deny our own feelings about it just because someone else's  experience was different! 
There were as many ways to feel about what the "NCH" means to us as there are people who were there!
Peace and light, my friends!
Again, thanks Norm.

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#16 [url]

Nov 25 11 5:39 PM

Hello Shelagh.
Ta for your reply.
Everyone is different. as you so clearly understand.
Yes, as I have said, the book is very interesting, also hugely sad but with the beautiful love aspect as well you can eventually smile through the tears. I would love to know what your reaction to it is.

Appopro ( did I spell that right?) of the different views folk are bound to have of their childhood-a little tale.
I left Edgeworth 1946 and mid eighties on a business trip found myself close to that home?
I drove to it and knocked at Walker House. A scruffy, dirty looking boy dressed in awful clothes greeted me with " what do you want"
" I used to live here, could I speak to the person in charge please"
"why the ******* hell would you want to come back 'ere after you left"
I later discovered that the place was now a home for difficult and disturbed boys?
Gave me food for thought on the drive home I can tell you.
That was the last contact of any kind with NCHO until I discovered this web site.
There is peace and light to be had, mine through my families and the lovely 'mother' who 'adopted' me at age 21.
I'm sure you have found yours.
best regards.   Norman

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#17 [url]

Nov 25 11 10:03 PM

 I don't write into this Forum much these days, having said just about all that I wish to say since joining in 2007. However, every individual has to right to express freely his or her first hand experiences and subsequent memories of the time in the NCH or other Care environment, without being challenged as a liar. The great majority of members on this Forum remember the time in NCH care with affection, but let me say to Jeff that I detested my six years in the NCH absolutely, and remember events that I and others suffered that would nowadays put the persons responsible in court. Beyond that, after an interval of 69 years, I am not now prepared to go. I accept entirely the veracity of your childhood experiences, so kindly do not dismiss contrary views from other quarters. Try discussing the subject constructively instead. I also think, as do other contributors, that you have got hold of the wrong end of the stick about bobbieowen's post of 24 November. 

Roger Cox

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#19 [url]

Nov 26 11 2:12 AM

        When being judgemental of our experiences whilst in care we should also be honest and ensure that we accept responsibility for self- inflicted problems.    It is almost certain that every child who came into care was to some extent disturbed.   This condition then agravated by an involuntary but compulsory major change in life, i.e. being taken away from the known and into care, must have produced a less than amenable child in the majority of cases.  Next take the standards of behaviour that were the accepted norm for that time and the urgent need to stop bad behaviour being seen to pay and you have a situation where the corrective actions used would be considered over the top today.

       Certainly in my own case I know that I was an absolute thorn in S'Lottie's side, just how I got away with so little punishment I shall never know but I did.  Looking back on those times I can see that the punishments were somewhat cruel and quite primitve in their concept but I can also see that they were not out of line for the time they were given.   What I do realise now is that most of them probably gave more satisfaction to the wronged than were effective in changing my ways.   The real punishment for me was the ignomy of being caught and being seen being punished.
On balance I almost certainly earned the punishments and any maltreatment I had but it was not the thing that made me change in anyway.

        Being punished was probably less than 2% of my time overall that Is why I look back on my time with affection and genuine pleasure. I am saddened to read of others who are unable to look back with the same feelings. 

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#20 [url]

Nov 26 11 6:05 AM

A comparative story

The comments Jeff made regarding the cottage homes in were, to a greater degree correct. Yes we were fed and watered and had a clean bed to sleep in each night. But for a Childs ways of thinking these things are not as important as a cuddle or kind ear should we fall over and cut a leg. This is what we received whilst in the care of S,Pearl . In you were more likely to get another smack to the head for dripping blood on the floor and shoved back outside to tend your wounds.

A strong story that will stay in my mind of treatment in Leic. A young girl named Elaine **** was absolutely scared stiff of the dark and she wet the bed on many a night. Mainly due to the toilet block being outside with no lights. wetting the bed and taking the flack the next morning was the lesser evil as far as she could see. Come the morning the house parent would instruct her to stand naked and bathe in a bowl in the bath room (inside) at the same time as the remainder of the children, boys and girls of mixed ages had a morning wash. She was not given a towel to cover her modesty until we had all finished. The idea being that the shame would stop the bed wetting. Elaine was 12 years old at this time. I later found out that her mother used to lock her under the stairs whenever her boyfriend came to visit hence the darkness phobia. One boy did come to her rescue and stood at the bath room door to prevent anyone going in. His reward? He got wiped across his shoulders (bare) with a wet floor cloth. So severe that it gave him welts that bled. The truth came out when his teacher noticed his shirt was stuck to his back during a PE lesson. How do I know this? Simple, that boy was me. Nothing was done; no one got a reprimand over this.

Not to hark on a dark period for me, as regarding abuse to children in the homes I might suggest the readers check “Frank Beck+ The Beeches 1978-1986. but be ready for one member to say “its all lies”

There have been many times of sadness during my stay in Council run homes there fore that gives me the right to state any comparisons I can see between the Council and NCH Est.

I hasten to add that the abuses involving Beck were after my discharge from care. There but for the grace of God.


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