Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle
Ph: (02) 4979 1136 Mobile: 0419 263 901
Fax: (02) 4979 1137
Hunter Former British Child Migrants Reunion: Remembering and Honouring
This Sunday, October 13, a reunion is being held in Newcastle for 31 former British child migrants who arrived in Newcastle on the SS Ormonde 50 years ago and were placed at the Murray Dwyer Orphanage, Mayfield.
Former British child migrant and Master of Ceremonies for the reunion, Mr Mike Blair says he feels a mixture of emotions about Sunday's reunion. "I feel a little trepidation but, at the same time, I'm excited. I'm looking forward to meeting the men again, some of whom I have not seen since I left the Murray Dwyer Orphanage. It's really important for my family too. It's an opportunity for them to learn more about my childhood experiences".
"I'm especially looking forward to hearing the stories of the men and reliving some memories at the reunion," Mr Blair said.
Centacare Newcastle, the official welfare agency of the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, is working with a number of the former British child migrants to organise the reunion.
Centacare Newcastle's Director, Mr Bryan Dunn, says that almost 20 of the former British child migrants will be attending the reunion. "A number of others are unable to attend for various reasons, but have sent letters and greetings. We'll be sending them a video of the day's events and photos and other material so that they can feel part of the day in some small way."
A feature of the reunion is the dedication and blessing of a memorial plaque, which includes the names of 20 of the 31 former British child migrants.
"The memorial recognises the courage and resilience of these boys as they faced the challenge of starting a new life in Australia, and as they seek as men to reclaim their history and identity. We acknowledge the pain of their separation from their mothers and fathers and families. We also hope that the memorial will be a sign of hope for the future for the men and their families," Mr Dunn said.
Ms Joan Kerry who is employed as the Child Migrant Project Officer for the Catholic Child Welfare Council in the United Kingdom will be one of the special guests at the reunion. As part of the Australian Catholic Church's strategy to support former British child migrants, Ms Kerry's work includes assisting the former Child migrants to trace members of their families.
Mr Dunn said that many of the men are looking forward to meeting her and working with her while she is in the Hunter. "She has already assisted a number of former Child migrants from the Murray Dwyer to find members of their families, and others are hoping that she will be able to assist them in their family tracing."
Media are warmly welcome to attend the memorial dedication at 11:15 am on Sunday October 13. Following the ceremony, representatives of the former British child migrants, Ms Joan Kerry, Mr Bryan Dunn and Bishop Michael Malone will be available for interviews until 12:30 pm.
For venue details and other media enquiries phone Catherine Mahony on 0409 570 626 or Stephanie Thomas on 0419 263 901 <ends>