Where I met my mother

It was not in the usual place

A few weeks ago I spent a few feverish hours with Google maps – searching around the middle of Kent, England. Searching by peering through the pixels of old spa town, Royal Tunbridge Wells. Stumbling (virtually) down a road outside the village of Hawkhurst, looking for a rambling building called “Babies Castle”.

Cross-referencing with another search, I finally realised it’s been demolished, and a large new conference centre is on the site.

You see, I am a Barnardos baby. My twin and I once lived in that large house – “Babies Castle” – which housed lots and lots of babies. And it was there that my twin brother Peter and I, in a room of three sets of twins, met my mother and my father.

It was in that now-demolished building, that I met my Mother. I had never seen a picture of it before, and that is all that is left.

The family story goes that my dad was “rather taken” with the pair of West Indian girls in the room with us, but my parents went half-Japanese instead. Peter and I were fostered, adopted and later taken down under as part of our new family.

So I am grateful to the children’s charity, Barnardos, as well as my Mum (who was happy to add two to the family) and to the man she married who had served in India in a war against the Japanese, and who had put all enmity aside to change the lives of Peter and myself.

So now comes the mixed feelings bit. The local arm of Barnardos has dropped their “Mother of the Year” award. (It might be part of a trend to get rid of gendered language.) But having had two of them, and sharing my married life with another, I am quite partial to mothers.

You might not have multiple mothers, like me. But if you do have one you want to honour, FamilyVoice Australia – a Christian campaigning group – has taken over the National Mother of the Year Awards.

“FamilyVoice has always supported the belief of recognising the maternal service and sacrifice mothers make as an integral part of the traditional family unit,” announced Greg Bondar from FamilyVoice. “In this regard, we have chosen to fill the void left by Barnardos Australia given that they will sadly no longer offer the Mother of the Year Award.

“Mothers are an amazing group of people, changing the world in a variety of ways every single day. From volunteering in classrooms to testifying in the public arena, mums are making a difference in their communities, workplace, churches, and beyond.

“FamilyVoice wants to continue the tradition of recognising outstanding mothers who are passionate about making the world a better place for children and families and for the benefit of the next generation.”

FamilyVoice will announce the winners in each category during the week of Mother’s Day each year commencing Sunday, May 9.

There are three awards:

  • Young Mother of the Year – up to 25 years of age.
  • Mother of the Year – Open age.
  • Grandmother of the Year Award – Open age.

Entries are now open and can be submitted here.

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