At age two, one December day in 1943, Eric is handed over to a stranger, the Reverend Brightman. The Reverend is here to help Eric’s unmarried mother, who cannot keep Eric as she has to work in the cotton mills. Across war-torn Britain, a bawling and exhausted Eric is taken on a long train journey, finding relief only in snatches of sleep. The traumatised child is handed over to another stranger and delivered within the grim walls of Aqualate Hall, in the countryside of Shropshire. It is the first in a long line of Barnardo Homes he must call home. “You’re a bastard!” snaps Matron, slapping him. Eric does not cry. He now knows that he must always hide his feelings if he is to retain his humanity.
This harrowing autobiography, set in the 1940s and 1950s, reveals the inner turmoil of a child in care, from early years to adolescence and emerging into adulthood.
Matador Publishing, March 2015
Reviewer: Jen Kendell
I found this story very sad. A little boy of two years old separated from his family and barely able to form a relationship with his mother over the years and indeed his older brother He didn’t understand what emotions were and preferred to be alone with nature. A compelling read with tears in my eyes. The Author. William Fell-Holden. He has written his own story and proved that you can overcome anything. Just one of many thousands of children who have been through the Barnardos system and it was a privilege to read it .