Ship name / Flight number: Orcades
Arrival date: 26/04/1956
I was born in Birmingham, England in 1938, just before the outbreak of World War II. My Dad worked as a long-distance lorry driver. During the war, when most of the lights were turned out at night-time to make it harder for
the German Luftwaffe to find the cities to bomb, he had to learn to drive with no headlights and no street lights. This damaged his eyes and by 1944 he was only able to drive trucks during the day over short distances. My Mother worked in factories to help with the war effort.
I finished school at the age of 15 and my father was really keen for me to make a life for myself outside of England. He found out about the Big Brother Movement and suggested that I apply. My grandfather also encouraged me to do this and my mother did not object – she had my little sister to look after, who was born after the war.
I never regretted going to Australia.
I sailed on the SS Orchades in 1953 and it was an absolutely wonderful experience. The food was fabulous and I made a lot of friends. There were other young people like myself and we were allowed to go ashore and see different places over the five-week journey. I loved every minute of it. Even though the ship broke down just after passing through the Suez Canal and had to stop and wait for parts to arrive, it just felt like this big adventure.
When the SS Orcades docked in Sydney, I was met by a representative from the Big Brother Movement and taken to a hostel on the outskirts of the city [probably Burwood Lodge]. I was given a choice of working in on a farm or working in the city. I chose to work in the city because I grew up in the city of Birmingham and I’d never lived or worked in the country. I went to work for a window cleaning company. I had done a bit of work cleaning windows for pocket money during the school holidays and when I first finished school. After about three months, I left my job as I didn’t like the way the company was set up and I didn’t think there would be any opportunities for me to learn and progress. I decided it would be better for me to guide myself, so I started my own window cleaning business. I moved out of the Big Brother accommodation and found somewhere to rent. I was 17 years old.
There were very few cleaning companies in those days. Over the years, my business expanded to include office cleaning and at one stage we were employing about 20 cleaners, some of whom were ‘Little Brothers’. I didn’t go to business school or do any formal study, I just learnt how to run a business by trial and error – I seemed to have a pretty good head for it. My wife helped too – she did all the administration, such as correspondence and accounts.
I met my wife one Friday night in Sydney, not out on the town but playing tennis. I saw her at the courts and I was rather attracted to her, so I asked her out. Dawn and I were married a couple of years later in 1966. My best man was also a ‘Little Brother’ whom I met on the Orcades.
Soon after we married, Dawn and I decided to move to the Sunshine Coast in Queensland because it was a growing area with good business prospects. I set up a cleaning business in Twin Waters with my friend Barry Watts. We called it Inman and Watts Cleaning Services. There was always a lot of work and I did this until I retired.
Dawn and I had three children. After our boys – Barry and Robert – were born, Dawn really wanted a girl. We read all the books and followed all the advice about how to get a girl, but then Craig was born in 1984 and I wouldn’t swap him for anyone.
The Big Brother Movement encouraged us to write to our parents, which I did every fortnight or so. I was a great letter writer. My Mum always replied, and occasionally my Dad would send a letter. I sponsored my parents to come out to Australia when my Dad was about 50 years old. They lived with us when they first arrived, and Dad lived with us after Mum died.
I’ve been back to England a couple of times to see the sites and the place where I grew up. But I think I really grew up and became a man when I came to Australia with the Big Brother Movement.
Contact Little Brother