Unfortunately my mother could not cope with 3 children as she also had to work every day in order to make ends meet. So at around 2/3 months old I along with my brother and sister we were put into the local council care at a children’s home in Ladywell. Eventually the other 2 children were placed into a home in Chislehurst, and when I was old enough I was sent to a council home in Ashford Middlesex.
This meant that we were not reunited again until we all left the homes to go back to our mum who by this time 7 +1/2 years later in March 1947 was living in New Cross in an upstairs flat in her aunt and uncles house with her husband, almost opposite my grandma’s house. That same year on my mum’s birthday I was taken into hospital with pneumonia and kept in for 2 weeks and 5 days.
We all lived in New cross for around 2+1/2 years until the local council found us a 3 bed-room house with a large garden 3 miles away in Brockley. This was a reasonably happy time where I made friends with some of the nearby family’s children. I also continued to attend Sunday school at the church at the end of my grandma’s road in New Cross. Going by bus or walking up and over Peppy’s Hill what we called the shortcut to New Cross, as it cuts off all the main roads from Brockley. This church was were I joined Campaigners eventually becoming a chief in my late teens. At 11-12 years old I did try out the Guides in Brockley, but 1 of the girls did not like me, and kept throwing my coat on the floor, so having put up with this for nearly a year, I begged my mum to let me leave guides and join Campaigners. But she said I would have to buy my own uniform as she had already paid for my Guides uniform. I went without my pocket money for a few weeks so my mum could keep it against the cost she paid for my new uniform. My pocket money used to be 6p a week. (Those days there were 240 pennies in a pound (£)).
My sister Pat was at a school in Deptford and my brother brother Bill went to the local junior school with me in Turnham road until he went to the secondary modern school near our home. Eventually I passed the 11 plus exam and went to Shuckleton Central school in Sydenham for 1 year and then was made to go to Wallbutton Road secondary modern school because my mother was told that my writing was not good enough for the school I was at.
At 13 I passed the exam to go to technical college, this was a college for learning dress-making, millenary, and tailoring as I thought I might like to join my sister at her place of work as a dress maker. The technical college was in Woolwich, some distance away and could only be got there by getting 2 different busses.
In 1953 on the first day of our Easter holiday which was the 31st March I was riding my bike round Brockley Cross, when my front wheel slipped and I came off breaking my lower left leg, the nearby locals pulled me onto the kerb where I heard them talking and asking if anyone had called the ambulance, so as I looked up I told them they should flag down an ambulance that was coming along the road, which they did and I was taken to Lewisham Hospital. That hospital could not let me stay as there was an epidemic on one of the children’s wards with a contagious infection and it was not known if I had had it when I was small. So I landed up being taken to Sunhill Hospital, Dartford. After just over 2 weeks and 5 days in hospital I was transported back to my grandma’s house to recuperate as both my mum & her husband were at work every day.
I had to keep my plaster cast on for an extra 2 weeks because the ambulance service was given the wrong name of my grandma’s road, putting a W instead of a B in the address and the following Tuesday was Coronation Day, the next week (Tuesday) was set as the ambulances from Kent usually picked up from London on (Tuesdays).
Then the following year in 1954 Billy Graham came to Harringay in London for a nation-wide convention. At the same time our church held a mission with an American minister called Danny MacVicar, and on the Tuesday 6th April I am pleased to tell you that I became a Christian by giving my heart to The Lord asking God for forgiveness. One thing I have never regretted even though I have had some very difficult times in my life.
In 1954 At 15 I decided to leave school when we broke up for the Christmas holidays, I told my mum and she said if you can get a job then I will inform your head mistress. I got a job in an office in Great Portman street, off Oxford Circus. But on my first day I caught the bus from Charing Cross going in the wrong direction, and the conductor told me to cross the road and go the other way. Therefore I was 1 hour late getting to work, and had to sit and wait to be taken to the area I was to work in, when a chauffer came in and asked for someone to sit in the owner’s car. The receptionist told him I was free so he took me to the car, and I sat in it till he came back and drove it round the corner to the company’s garage, then walked me back to the offices, where the receptionist took me to my work place in the office building which was Lewis’s of Great Portman Street and earning just £3 10shillings for a 5 day week, doing filing etc: for various buyers within the company.
But after 6 months when the Campainer’s District Chief of London visited our church one Parade night for a general inspection, she asked me if I enjoyed working where I did or would I like to change and join the staff at Gossard’s Corsetry co: for 2/6p a week more I accepted immediately thereby going to work in an office of 8 Christians which was brilliant.
Then 2 years later I became a pupil nurse at the Royal Victoria Hospital East Grinstead in Sussex for 2 years training to become a State Enrolled Nurse, but after only 8 months I had to ask for a transfer back to my local hospital in New Cross as my mum had been diagnosed with Cancer of the womb and was to have a total hysterectomy and my step-father could not cope with house work etc.
In 1958 I decided that I would go on holiday that September to the Christian Holiday camp at Filey in Yorkshire by coach. On the way I meet 2 lads at the first stop, they asked if they could sit with me at the table, as we got talking and I asked them how old they were, one called Eddie turned out to be 3 months older than me, then I said to the other one how old are you grandad? And after a short think he said 26, to which I replied cor ain’t you old.
Nevertheless this eventually became the future husband I had hoped to meet. We married 16 months later, 5 months after I had qualified as an assistant nurse in 1959. But left nursing after a couple of months and then 4 months getting a job at Freemans catalogue company head office as an accounts clerk. 6 months later we moved to Camberwell Green. I worked in a local office of Timothy Whites as a stock control clerk until I left to have Carol, then 17 +1/2 months later John was born, so now our family was complete. when John was almost a year old my upstairs neighbour needing a little job, took on my 2 as child minder as I managed to get a job as a bookkeeper at our local dairy and she also had 2 children whom always played with my 2.
During that time when John was just over a month old I was woken up by him as he needed feeding, as I went to get a bottle I smelt smoke, I went to get a bottle from the fridge, and realised that there was smoke coming from under the door of the flat upstairs. I woke Peter and made him feed John then looked upstairs again and I saw the smoke coming from under our neighbours door was getting thicker, so shouting at Peter that their room upstairs was on fire, I went back down to our flat whilst Peter got up and ran down the road to call the fire-brigade and warn people in the flats opposite while I woke up the rest of the tenants in the house we were in. The fire brigade arrived really quickly and once the fire was out, we found out that Geoffrey had lit a cigarette and then feel asleep on their bed. At this time his wife was in hospital having just had their 2nd baby.
Whilst living in Camberwell I worked at the United Dairies at the Elephant and Castle as a milk-round’s-man’s bookkeeper. When Carol was 7½ we moved to a flat on Blackheath Hill, this is where I got a School Crossing Patrol job working for Greenwich Police and thoroughly enjoyed it. Quite often I would help push a car through the traffic lights when it broke down, and one day as I stepped off the kerb a car started to come round the corner without indicating, so I stopped it and reminded the driver I was there plus the fact that children needed to cross the road in safety, then I looked down at his clothes and realised he had a policeman’s uniform on, which I then pointed out to him what he had done.
In February 1972 we decided to move out of London and looked in-to the Kent area. Then in June 1972 we moved to Margate. Since living in Thanet as in previous years I have always travelled anything up to 5 miles to go to church, or Christian activities. I can imagine you ask “why did I start coming to St: Luke’s church when I moved to Margate from London. Surely there are plenty of churches in and around Margate closer to home?
Well here’s the answer, at that time I was a chief in the ‘Campaigners' Movement, which was an Evangelical Youth Movement, mainly for young people, not only teaching discipline & respect but also skills such as assorted badges and marching, along with Christian values. Regular weekly attendance at Sunday School along with monthly Church Parades were also a must.
I was a member of an Evangelical free Church and was baptised by total emersion on 20th January 1957 6 months before becoming a pupil nurse. Also on the same day as Audrey on the 19th of December 1976 I was confirmed thereby enabling me to be able to become a member of this Church of St. Luke’s Ramsgate.
Unfortunately being so busy most of my life I did not really worry much about my health, which as you see made me overweight, which I have always struggled with for far too many years, making me now a diabetic with all the worries that also brings, yet I trust in my God to keep me still on the right road of life and serving Him as best as a human being can that through His love I am able to do.
I have worked for our local hospital which was in Wilderness hill, now a nursing home, and also at the hair dyer manufacturing company for a few years. Later having been laid-off due to the 3 day working week which was soon after my mother died, I got a job working for Cartiers supper store which was bought out by Tesco.
I worked for Tesco for just over 14 years when I was made redundant, due to them removing the position of departmental managers in 1992. I was unemployed for 6 months when a friend offered me a job at Age Concern in Broadstairs which I was delighted to take on, thus becoming office assistant with responsibilities for keeping all the records of client’s, and menus plus weekly news sheet up to date. This job I really enjoyed as I was working with people who I liked and also was involved with older people whom I have always got on well with. Eventually retiring at the age of 73 when Age UK became established taking over the running of all Age Concern establishments, and slimming down it’s holdings so as to modernize as we were then in the 21st century. Before I left I wrote a book on the history of Age Concern Broadstairs and had it published by Sericol Ltd:. which made some money for Age Concern.
In 2016 my husband Peter died from messathelioma on May 6th, just 5 months after our 56th wedding anniversary. Messathelioma is lung cancer due to working in asbestos environments. After all that Peter and I have experienced throughout our lives this was the hardest thing I have known, and yet God still kept hold of me, being the only footsteps in the ground as I tried hard to cling onto Him. Depression pulling me down, until I could again whisper a prayer that eventually helped me back to full faith in my God again. Life still tugs at me trying to pull me down, but through faith in God and Jesus my Saviour along with friends and counselling I can keep my head up without giving up.
At one time in my life I attended a meeting where the leader asked us what we felt was our area of service we felt led to work in, and after prayer I felt led to say with the older generation, as sometimes I get annoyed by people younger than myself. Although I am sure that was what God has asked me to do, I am sure that there is still more for me to do for Him. It is just difficult to see through the haze what there is yet for me to do for Him in Jesus’ name.
But the one special thing I do love to do is sing, and though I now do not belong to the singing group, I still receive joy and a fantastic lift of my spirit when I hear such beautiful music sung in praise and to my God. When I am at home I also often tend to drop off to sleep at any moment.
But what with Covid 19 and Brexit always being spouted out on the TV, I often get fed up with the news, and try to shut it out. One day perhaps God will reveal to us why these trials are sent to try us, but until then we grin and bare them and pray that our GOD will show us what we have to do day by day.
As I sit in my little flat, I often think of times gone by, many of them holidays and celebrations, as well as times just enjoying our lives together for just over 56 years, not always a bed of roses, but certain that our God has always been there looking after us and keeping our feet on the right path. Even when one of us was out of work, He soon showed us where we should look for our next job, and then supplied us with the means to achieve it. Seldom was either of us out of work for more than a week, and always the job that was shown was the right one. How good is our God?
I look at our family and realise that although we are not perfect, one thing is sure, family are always important and we must always love and help one another, no matter what the cost. Many are the tribulations we have had as a family, but also there is a greater number of our joys and elations which can never be taken from us.
So at this time as we have past getting Christmas 2020, I look forward with hope in my heart that things will improve and once again get back to some form of normal, where we can again see our loved ones, and hug them or even give them a loving kiss which says I still and always will love you until the end.
Praying that our GOD will bless and keep all my friends and loved ones in health and peace until such time as there is no more.
By Farina Anne Hatton.(nee Blackbourn) Amended 20.02.2021.