"Like Louis Armstrong, who it is said improvised his solos on a particular tune until they couldn't get any better and then carried on playing the same perfected solo..."

The latest in the Bi-Blog dialogue between David Kennard and Bob Hinshelwood.


It's never too late to support a good cause!mydonate

PETiTATHON 01 on November 30th brought you four new features:

'Continuity and Connectivity'

'The First Time I Saw the Queen'

'On the Importance of the Archive'

'Holding. Longing. Belonging'

Any one of which would be worthy of your support!

PETiTATHON 02: December 28th! will bring you still more!

But why wait? Donate Today! Support the work! Support those who are supporting the Work! Please.


mydonateA huge thank you to everyone who supported the 'PETTATHON' fundraising marathon in October. Thanks to your generosity and support we topped over £7,000 in two weeks! What an immense morale raiser! Now, to press forward towards our ambitious 2012-2013 target of £50,000. To ensure we can continue to do the work we've been reporting on, and even grow it, we are holding a PETiTATHON on the last Friday of each month...

Welcome to PETiTATHON November!

"What has PETT ever done for me?" - 'Provided continuity and connectivity'

"PETT Showcase" - 'The First Time I Saw the Queen' A digital story by Mark from the Caldecott Community

"Guest Blog" - 'On the Importance of the Archive' by Pauline Weinstein (but it's more than that!)

"Favourite Photographs" - 'Holding. Longing, Belonging'

We very much need your support!

If anything in this brief campaign touches a chord or indicates that we are deserving of your support, please use our 'BT Mydonate' page to add your £10, £20, £50, £150 (hey - £15,000 - go for it!) to that of others. BT MyDonate itself does not take anything out of what you give, although your credit or debit card will make a small charge.

Or, cheques can be sent to PETT, Barns Centre, Church Lane, Toddington near Cheltenham, Glos. GL54 5DQ. If you are a U.K. tax payer, Gift Aiding your donation will add 25% in value to your gift without any additional cost to you (or to us!).

An indication of the cost of work and activities here, and how your contribution can have a direct impact, is on our 'Sponsor a...' page:

Finally, we apologise if this communication is unwelcome, and if you don't wish to receive future 'Pettitathons', communications or updates from us,please let us know and we'll take you off our mailing/email list immediately.

Thank you,

The Team.

A huge thank you to everyone who supported the PETTATHON fundraising marathon in October, in every way possible - through donations, through guest blogs, through patience(!), through ideas and feedback. 

Thanks to your generosity and support we topped over £7,000 in two weeks! What an immense morale raiser! Now, to press forward towards our ambitious 2012-2013 target of £50,000, to ensure we can continue to do the work we've been reporting on, and even grow it, we'll be holding a PETiTATHON on the last Friday of each month....

November 30th 2012 - PETiTATHON

Keep a look out for our brand new Guest Blog, Showcase, Favourite Photograph and What has PETT ever done for me? feature!  And if you'd like an idea of just how important your donation will be to us, take a look at out Sponsor a... page for inspiration!

Thank you and see you tomorrow!

Therapeutic child care pioneer Barbara Dockar-Drysdale would have celebrated her 100th birthday on October 17th. To mark this milestone, the Mulberry Bush Organisation asked PETT to prepare an exhibition of photographs and documents, and commissioned former Mulberry Bush School Directors Dr. Christopher Reeves and Richard Rollinson to speak about Mrs. Dockar-Drysdale after the Organisation's AGM on October 19th. Mrs. D, as many people affectionately called her, founded the Mulberry Bush School for socially, emotionally and behaviourally disturbed children in 1948, and was its director for many years before becoming Therapeutic Consultant to the late Cotswold Community.mrsd

[To hear the talks given by Mulberry Bush CEO John Diamond, Dr. Christopher Reeves, and Richard Rollinson, please click here.]

PETT's Executive Director Richard Rollinson, Trustee Dr. Linnet McMahon and PETT volunteer / former Mulberry Bush child Barry Northam all took part. PETT Team members Dr. Craig Fees and Matt Naylor added their support. Matt had prepared photographs of Mrs. D and her husband Dockar for the display boards, as well as papers relating to Mrs. D from the Mulberry Bush archives. Craig recorded the talks of John Diamond, Christopher Reeves, and Richard Rollinson.

Richard Rollinson and Christopher Reeves gave insightful speeches on Mrs. D, with Dr. Reeves focusing on Mrs. D as a caring individual known for communicating with children 'on their terms', without necessarily analysing every element of conversation – a point which had been made earlier by Mrs. D's eldest daughter Sally, who was also present. Richard Rollinson focussed on Mrs. D as an intellectual figure and mentor, recollecting how her works had inspired him in his professional life.

Heads were nodding in agreement, and there were many warm smiles in the room. This enjoyment in shared reflections may have been enhanced by the pieces of  Mrs. D's centenary celebration birthday cake, baked in the School kitchen and brought around to the attendees by current Mulberry Bush children.

The AGM itself was an extremely positive event, demonstrating how The Bush continues to grow from strength to strength.  One of the year's successful innovations was the launch of MBOX - Mulberry Bush OXfordshire - the Mulberry Bush's new reaching-out service to support early intervention for the inclusion of children made vulnerable by their Social, Emotional and Behavioural difficulties, across Oxfordshire and neighbouring counties. (For more information, see

The AGM also welcomed  40 new "Members" of the Mulberry Bush Organisation. These are Founders, Patrons, former Trustees, Friends of the Bush, experts in the field, and others who have an interest in this great charity, who have agreed to help strengthen the governance of the Mulberry Bush Organisation by becoming Members, and attending general meetings of The Mulberry Bush Organisation Ltd, including the Annual General Meeting (‘AGM’), asking questions, receiving the Annual Report and Accounts,  and electing or re-electing Trustees.  PETT Trustee Dr. Linnet McMahon, PETT Executive Director Richard Rollinson, and archivist Dr. Craig Fees were among those appointed.


To hear the talks given by Mulberry Bush CEO John Diamond, Dr. Christopher Reeves, and Richard Rollinson, please click here.

For more information on Barbara Docker-Drysdale, a PETT article can be found here.  Read Chris Beedell's obituary to Mrs. D. in The Independent, and Simon Rodway's in The Guardian.

liverpool1'During the 19th and 20th centuries, about 130,000 children were sent from the UK to Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Zimbabwe to give them a fresh start and to boost the population of developing nations. The last ones went as recently as 1970. Some did well, but many were exploited and deceived by those who should have safeguarded them. It is only in recent years that public apologies have led to serious attempts by the British and Australian governments to help those who were mistreated.'

On Monday 15th October, the PETT team took part in 'Child Migration: Lessons for Today' a conference organised by the The Child Care History Network and the Child Migrants Trust and held at the Merseyside Maritime Museum in Liverpool.  The PETT team also manned the registration table, and provided impromptu technical support throughout the day. We also recorded all the sessions throughout the day and will be editing and uploading them with the permissions of the speakers to the Child Care History Network website. They are also available, of course, at the Archive and Study Centre itself - just bring a set of headphones, or borrow one of ours, and listen away!

The conference was attended by historians, professionals in the field of social care, as well as individuals directly affected by child migration.  In a very moving presentation, John Hennesey, himself sent as a child to Bindoon in Australia, spoke candidly about his experiences, and about how, thanks to the work of the Child Migrants Trust, he had been reunited in England with the mother he did not know he had, 67 years after he had been sent away.  Addressing the conference, he said this was not a story, or something you read in a book: 'We are living history'.  He urged the audience to do something, to help raise awareness of the Child Migrants campaign and the need for justice: 'If you sit down and do nothing, you're as guilty as they are'.  

Professor Roy Parker, Emeritus Professor of Social Policy at the University of Bristol, Fellow of the Centre for Social Policy at Dartington, and author of 'Uprooted: The Shipment of Poor Children to Canada' (2008) talked about the 'push and pull' factors which led to 80,000 children being sent to Canada between 1867-1917.  He noted that ideas of Empire and religious notions that children might be 'saved', as well as a political social-engineering impetus to break the cycle of pauperism were among the push factors, while the need for cheap casual labour and race concerns were driving demand from abroad.  He surmised that these were children that were 'needed but not wanted' and stressed the psychological and social damage that was caused.  In thinking about lessons for today, he noted that little has changed, and urged us to think about the current international situation with children and young people still being uprooted, leaving the conference to consider whose testimony we are really listening to when it comes to child migrants.

Margaret Humphreys CBE, founder of the Child Migrants Trust and author of 'Empty Cradles' (later made into the film 'Oranges and Sunshine') has campaigned for government recognition of Britain's Child Migrants and their ongoing rights and needs for over 25 years. She spoke about how more needs to be done in the UK to recognise and acknowledge the displaced lives of thousands of children who were sent to Australia, New Zealand and Canada as late as the 1970s.   It was through the Trust that John Hennessy had been reunited with his mother after 67 years abroad, a time during which neither had known anything of the other.  Margaret Humphreys noted that an exhibition on Child Migrants originating at the Merseyside Maritime Museum has reached a large national audience in Australia with much press attention, while ironically failing to get funding for a tour in Britain:  The interest and awareness in the UK is still too limited.  

Jim Hyland, a former care services manager with a keen interest in the history of the sector, then talked about the role of Catholic agencies in child migration, referencing the children who were sent to institutions, farms and schools run by Catholic orders between 1939 and 1956.   He explained that Caritas embarked on their own Child Migrant project in 2001 which saw the creation of a database of Catholic children sent in such circumstances.  Since 2001, it has had over 260 requests from people searching for their families, hoping to tell their story and wanting to return to the UK.  

The next speaker, former MP David Hinchliffe, had played a key role in bringing the issue to national attention as Chair of the Health Select Committee. He told how he himself had discovered the devastating history of Child Migration - of visiting Australia and conducting a number of evidence sessions where child migrants told their difficult and moving stories to the Select Committee.  He described the Child Migrants as an ongoing source of national embarrassment and shame, and asked who really bears responsibility for it.  He also noted that child exploitation is still an issue, with vulnerable youngsters - such as unaccompanied asylum seekers - still being abandoned to their fate;  and if responsibility is being shifted, he asked whether we'll be looking back on some of our current practice with the similar shame we feel in relation to the Child Migrants. In particular he drew parallels with the current policy of private venture capitalists in providing child care for profit, tranforming vulnerable children into commodities,  and warned that we may take action with a child with the best of intentions but the outcomes may not always be what we had hoped and expected.  

A final panel session involving all the speakers prompted a lively discussion and reflection on the issues raised during the day.  Darren Coyne, of the Care Leavers Association and a member of the Child Care History Network Board, drew parallels between the issues faced by Child Migrants with care leavers such as himself and those he works with – adults who are seeking answers about themselves, who want to find and access the files about them, who are seeking a sense of identity, but who are often blocked, and thwarted, by lack of information and resources, by legislation and the mis-application of the Data Protection Act, and by attitudes which treat care leavers and child migrants as if they can not be trusted with their own information.   He spoke of the frustration care leavers experienced  with  redacted files - the elimination of third party information in the name of Data Protection, which could result in being given meaningless documents shorn of any context or details about the care leaver's life while growing up. He spoke of the fraustration of the 'corporate parent' restricting the information that can be accessed: that files are seen as the agency's, and not as the containers of the child's history to which the child had a right.  

It was suggested that a Royal Commission or government inquiry into the Child Migrants could not afford to ignore current practice and legislation.  Margaret Humphreys explained that only the fullest acknowledgement of the truth will bring justice. While the government apology in 2010 gave recognition and made a huge difference to child migrants, who finally felt they were being believed, she explained that an apology should mark the beginning of reconciliation, not the end.  John Hennesey agreed that consciousness seems higher in Australia, where there had been a major government enquiry, and where the Prime Minister's apology had been part of a wider act of social reconciliation including the National Library of Australia's "Child Migrants and Forgotten Australians Oral History Project",  and asked whether, in Britain, we are in denial about our history. 

He said he wished that the press had attended the Conference in order to help raise public awareness -  but hoped that the message would nevertheless carry and go out from the Conference: 'Let us know why it happened'.

For more information:

Care Leavers Association

Child Migrants Trust

Child Care History Network

Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants Oral History Project