Evacuees in Leigh: Village Guests

It was more than forty years ago when a small girl knocked on my back door and offered me a handful of beans.  “What are these for?” I asked.  “I stole them from your garden” whispered the embarrassed child.  “Mrs Seal said I must bring them back to you.”

Poor little kid, I felt and almost blamed Mrs Seal for subjecting her to such humiliation.  But that was how I first came to know Angela.

Soon after that Angela and his sister, Betty, war-time evacuees, needed a new home; Mrs Seal could no longer keep them.  My wife offered to take them and we gave them the best home we could.  It was the beginning of a most happy relationship.

The evacuee children of Leigh, nearly all girls belonged to the Roman Catholic School of St. Vincent’s Convent, Westminster.  With them came a priest, Father Mortimer, and teachers.  Children were billeted with families around the village, while about a dozen lived at “Homelea” in Green View Avenue under the care of Mrs Wade.  The teachers, Miss Griffen, Miss O’Brien and Miss Vanstone, lived at Old Kennards.  Mrs Joiner, the infant teacher, lodged in Green View Avenue.

Our village hall premises served as schoolrooms on weekdays and a place of worship on Sunday, while the cellars became the Air Raid Shelter.

Our two girls had been left at the Convent at an early age.  But when the war ended Betty was re-united with her mother, who agreed to Angela staying on with us.  This she did until she was eventually married in Leigh Church.

After the death of my wife, and ever since, both girls have kept a close relationship with me by correspondence and visits.  Today, with families of their own, they are still firmly established members of my present family.

A case, perhaps, where one tiny act of restitution had led to blessings on us all.

by Dick Wood:  (Parish Magazine March 1986