On their own - Britain's child migrants

Pamela Smedley – longing for family

baby girl holding a toy rabbit

"The Sisters of Nazareth in England told me, ‘Your mother had you in the hospital, walked out of the hospital and left you’." Pamela Smedley

Photograph lent by Pamela Smedley

In 1949 11-year-old Pamela Smedley was told she was being sent to Australia for adoption. Her heart sank when she disembarked 'SS Ormonde' in Adelaide and was taken to the Sisters of Mercy’s Goodwood Orphanage.

Pamela left the harsh conditions of Goodwood at 15 and went into domestic service at an isolated shearing station five hours drive from Adelaide. Treated as a slave, she longed to be part of a family.

In 1989 Pamela contacted the Child Migrants Trust, who helped reunite her with her mother Betty. For 40 years Betty had believed Pamela was adopted by a loving family in England.

small model of a traditional English house

A tiny little English house

Although she needed clothing and other items, Pamela spent her entire first pay on a miniature English house to remind her of England. Every night she fell asleep clutching her little house and dreaming of a proper family.

Lent by Pamela Smedley

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