My Mother and Father were married on 24th December 1927. I was the only child of the marriage and was born on July 13th
As a result of my birth, my mother died from an embolism on August 4th l942.
From the time of my mother's death, I was unloved, unwanted and moved from One Aunt’s home to another.
Two years after my birth, I contracted polio, which affected my Right leg. As a result, I had to wear a surgical boot and leg
My Father remarried in 1948 but my stepmother made it clear to all concerned that she had no intention of caring for me.
I was neglected, became emotional, troublesome and beyond control at school.
Despite this, my stepmother and father had three more children, Ann, Audrey and Christine.
My stepmother would tell lies about me to my father which would lead to severe beating from him with a leather belt
During the summer of l950, I spent most of my time wondering the streets of Nottingham without my leg irons because they
needed repairing and frequently played truant from school. Educationally, I was backward but was said to be good with my
My situation and neglect finally came to an end at the beginning of November 1950 on a very cold day. Having been locked
in a bedroom for several hours without food, water, heating and no one else in the house, my aunt, who lived across the road,
spotted me trying to climb out of a bedroom window and she contacted the Police and welfare department.
I was then taken to a local children’s hostel in Nottingham where I stayed until shortly before Christmas and it was so nice.
I had a clean warm bed and was well fed. I remember the home had a bonfire and fireworks on bonfire night. The home
also had a woodwork shop where I spent some time making things.
Christmas was spent at an aunt’s house in Nottingham. After Christmas I was taken to the Garden City at Woodford Bridge.
The Garden City was the start of my life in Barnardo’s and I did not like it there because the first thing the house parents
did, was to take away my Teddy bear.
I became disruptive and threatened to shoot them. Later that day I was given a cap gun and a roll of caps!!
May 1951 saw me transferred to the village homes at Barkingside for assessment. My report from the Garden City described
me as attention seeking, unpopular with the other boys, inclined to tell tales, of a rather selfish disposition and unlikely to do
well in a large group.
Having spent a year being assessed, I was then moved to Minuet Cottage, which contained 12 boys in total. The house parents
were Ray and Marjorie Cooke, a couple who were dedicated to their work and who looked after us very well indeed. This
was to be the start of three very happy years for me and in l953 we all moved into Hyacinth cottage.
With plenty of open spaces and a large playing field, I was able to enjoy playing football, cricket and other recreational
activities. I received physio for my Polio, taken to Great Ormond Street hospital twice a week for further treatment & learned
to swim in the hydro pool, which proved a great help when the Village pool reopened in 1954. I recall doing 59 lengths,
which I have never bettered. As further help, I was given a cycle to enable me to get more exercise and long trousers to
improve my circulation by keeping my leg warm during the cold weather.
Life at Barkingside was wonderful and we had many outings, including holidays by the sea.
Christmas time was very special and I was never short of Christmas presents and these included board games, woodwork
tools, Meccano sets, paints, painting books and many more toys.
We had many Christmas parties, which included the Bryant and May factory in London and the Navy training ship on the
River Thames. Other outings took us to Ice shows, pantomimes, the circus at Harringay arena and I recall seeing Roy Rogers
& Trigger at the same venue.
One of my fondest memories was the making of the record “Where Did My Snowman Go” with Petula Clark in 1953. The
rehearsals took place in the Schoolroom in the village.
For the recording itself, we were taken to The Garden City at Woodford Bridge and I remember on boarding the coach to
return home, we were each given a bar of chocolate by Petula and I was so excited, I slipped on the steps and fell flat on my
face, having to be assisted back onto the coach by Petula herself.
On another occasion we were taken to a recording studio somewhere in London to record a children's “Sing along”
programme, again with Petula Clark, which I think was for radio Luxemberg. I do remember one of the songs being “Hop
I had a number of extra treats and freedom. I was permitted to join the 2nd Ilford North boy scouts, which meant cycling
from the village to attend. I also attended scout camps, which I found a great adventure.
Because two of my aunties lived in London, I was able to spend weekends and holidays with them in Shepherds Bush and
Poplar. My uncle Ted, who lived in Poplar, took me to my first football match which was at Highbury and Arsenal beat
Sheffield Wednesday 6-3
I did have what I consider to be some bad experiences at the time. I had to go to school and also had to spend time writing
thank you letters for the presents and outings we received but on reflection, that was a good thing.
Attending church in the Village was a regular event on Sunday mornings and all dressed in our Sunday best cloths. After
lunch we would be taken on a walk, weather permitting, if not, we were only allowed to play quiet games, read or Wright
letters to relatives and certainly no out door games, but I think we were permitted to go swimming in the village pool during
My worst memories were the visits to the dentist at the Garden City. There was no gas or needle, just that horrible
Other bad experiences included two periods in the village hospital, one to have my tonsils out, and the other when I scolded
by foot. The later resulted in two weeks of convalescence at Great Yarmouth and the day I was due to return to the village,
I received news that the rest of my cottage were arriving for a two week stay, giving me four weeks in total.
Other holidays were spent in Deal, Kent where we stayed in the Victoria Street Baptist church hall with a mattress on the
floor for our bed
The encouragement and education I received at Barkingside, certainly helped me in later life and I can honestly say that my
time there, hold some of my best childhood memories.
In September 1955 I left the Village and was transferred to the William Baker Technical School at Goldings in Hertford.
Here I was to learn a trade of my choice and chose carpentry but later changed to boot and shoe repairing.
The School was split into houses and my junior years were spent in Pelham house. At this stage, I spent One day learning
my trade and Four days in School. After Two years I moved up to the seniors and into Buxton house. Now the roles were
reversed, One day in School and Four days learning my trade.
Goldings was so different from Barkingside and was certainly character building. Standing on your own two feet was the
order of the day.
The School revolved around the Bugle with “Reveille” in the mornings, “Come to the cookhouse door boys” at meal times,
“Fall in” at parade times and “The last post” for light out.
The day would begin with “Reveille”, then off across the parade ground (Winter & Summer) to the ablution block to wash
and clean our teeth etc.
After breakfast it was back to the dormitory, which then had to be cleaned, floor polished and your bedding folded in a neat
bundle at the end of your bed and ready for inspection.
After the dormitory inspection, it was off to the Schoolroom for morning prayers before going to School or your workshop.
At the end of the day, our spare time was to do with as we pleased but we were not allowed out of the School grounds. We
were only permitted into Hertford town on Saturday afternoons to go to the cinema etc. but had to be back by 8 p. m.
By seeking permission in advance, we were allowed out of Goldings to visit relations and for other occasions. I myself would
often receive permission to attend football matches when ever Nottingham Forest were playing at Arsenal, Tottenham or
Chelsea etc. and would sometimes be companied by my friend, David Barlow. Forest games were not the only ones we would
attend. I remember going to Highbury to see Arsenal play Juventus when John Charles played for the Italians. Other games
included the England v Young England matches, which were traditionally played on the eve of the FA cup final at one of the
London grounds. Dave and I know we were privileged to see the likes of Finney, Mathews, Lofthouse, Wright and many
other top players.
Football did get me into trouble on one occasion when I did a ‘Bunk’ (Ran away) after going to see Nottingham Forest play
at Luton in 1957. I returned home to Nottingham with the Forest fans using a platform ticket and had to stay for a week
because my Dad could not afford the train fare to send me back. It was some time before I was permitted to attend another
We did not attend the volume of parties and outings as we had at Barkingside but I remember going to the royal tournament
at earl’s court, seeing a stage version of “The White Horse Inn” and going to Wimbledon, as Goldings provided the Ball boys.
Goldings was full of opportunities to get up to mischief, but being found out would result in being placed on Jankers and the
loss of privileges with punishment ranging from, missing Thursday night cinema, scrubbing the stone passage, kitchen &
dinning room duties, loss of pocket money and even ‘Six of the best’ from Pin Head (The Headmaster, Mr Wheatley).
I must confess to receiving all of them at some stage during my stay
Goldings was also full of good opportunities for many other things. Sport was one of its main activities with interhouse
competitions for football, cricket, swimming, boxing and table tennis And I remember swimming for Buxton house.
Goldings had several football and cricket teams that competed outside the School.
Other opportunities included drama, and I frequently took part in the School plays and concerts.
I was a member of the church choir, was confirmed in Goldings church by the Bishop of Bedford and sometimes read the
lesson at morning and evening services and did so on the day I left.
On leaving Goldings on January 4th 1959 I returned to Nottingham to live with my stepmother and father who had got back
together after a long separation. Within a few days I found employment in a shoe repair shop but did not stay long as I
preferred following Nottingham Forest and Notts County cricket clubs on Saturdays.
It was not long before my stepmother decided to leave again and I lived with my Dad and had a number of jobs but could
not settle, although I was never out of work.
During this time I had taken up disabled sport and became the joint founder member of the Nottingham Forest supporters
F. C. and we played in the local Sunday league for a number of years.
In 1965 I met Ruth, my First wife to be, in 1966 obtained a job as a prosthetic technician, making and repairing artificial
limbs and in December 1967 my father died.
I married Ruth in September l966 when our Daughter Kerry was 4 months old but she decided to walk out when Kerry was
18 months old. I obtained legal custody and with the help of friends, relatives and an excellent employer, raised Kerry single
handed until she was 13 years old.
By now, I had become an active member of Gingerbread, a National Association for One Parent families and became local
secretary, regional chairman and a member of the National executive.
1979 saw two big changes in my life. The first was the decision to have my Polio leg amputated through the knee, the second
was to marry my second wife, Christine, who I had met through Gingerbread. In the June I had my leg amputated, married
Christine in September and life was wonderful.
Christine often came to the Goldings reunions with me and she also first persuaded me to drive to Spain for holiday
I was competing in disabled sport at local, regional and National level and able to combine my photographic hobby by
obtaining sponsorship from a photographic manufacturer of dark room equipment.
My disabled sport was excelling, winning the British Polio Fellowship National sportsman of the year title three times in the
1980s, along with five regional titles and a number of medals at the British amputee swimming championships.
My photographic interest was going through exiting times as I was into sports photography and very interested in
professional football and spent a number of seasons traveling to league grounds all over the Country. With press pass in
hand, I was privileged to sit along side some of the countries top press photographers, and included eight visits to Wembley
Stadium, with the highlight being a press pass when Nottingham Forest beat Everton 4-3 in the Simod cup final.
In the late 1980s my life went pear shaped again. New contractors took over the company I was working for at the limb
centre, making the job less enjoyable. Having then witnessed the Hillsborough disaster first hand, my wife decided to run
off with a Schoolteacher from the School where I had found her the job and if that was not bad enough, I lost my job at the
artificial limb centre after almost 25 years.
At this point, I remembered I was an ex Golding’s boy and we were brought up not take things lying down, so I bounced
back in double quick time and took the company to an industrial tribunal for unfair dismissal. The result? 1-0 to Goldings.
Twelve months later the company lost the contract, went out of business and I met Dorothy who I married in l992 and she
also attended a number of Goldings reunions with me.
Sadly, Dorothy died on December 30th 2003.
I still work full time for a company in Nottingham distributing medical products to hospitals all over the UK and live alone
in a nice ground floor flat with my own back garden which I enjoy attending to in the summer months
My half sister Audrey lives in Nottingham and we are very close. My daughter Kerry lives not to far away near Mansfield
and I see my two teenage grand children, Kimberley, 18 and Sarah, l6
Holidays in Spain still play a big part in my life and driving down there is still enjoyable for me.
As a serving member of the Barnardo National Council, I hope it will enable me to give back a little of what I have been
given, not just my years in Barnardos but my achievements in later life and know I am a better person for the experience.
It was a privilege to have attended Goldings and I’m proud to be a member of the largest family in the world, Dr. Barnardo’s!
By Alan Dearman