The Children

The Kathryn Hill Story

Kathryn was born on 21st January 1952, the second child to James and Jessie, sister to Jimmy, Archie and Irene. Her story is as much the same as her brother’s and sister up until 1965 when they were all sent to Australia. Almost immediately this family of four was broken up and it was to change the course of all their lives, each one sent in a different direction because their father was a weak man. Giving them up for the love of other women.

Kathryn was familiar with being moved around, having spent many years in care starting at the age of eight. After leaving high school at the age of sixteen Kathryn was found a home in a women’s hostel run by a young couple in Wood Street, Randwick, Sydney. She shared with four other girls, one named Dawn who she became very close friends with. During her stay there she was to have numerous jobs including being a live clothes model in a well known department store.

Kathryn was an attractive woman and was somewhat vulnerable after years in care. At 17 she became involved with a married man, a few years her senior and the affair blossomed. She believed she’d found happiness, until the inevitable happened and Kathryn fell pregnant. The pregnancy was not planned and the father was not going to stand by her. The suggestion was made that she have the baby adopted, but she refused and shortly before the birth moved back into a Barnardo’s home in Sydney to await the birth.

Her son James was born on the 14th August 1970. Strangely she named her son after her father, the very same man that had deserted her because at this time Kathryn still believed that her father would come and get her from Australia and take her back to England. It was never to be.

Kathryn left hospital with James’s and was to spend the next year or so with her brother Jimmy, who helped her bring up the child. She struggled as single parent, but she never at any time thought about putting him into care. Kathryn moved from place to place and was last seen at her brother’s funeral in 1993. Sadly neither Archie nor Irene were to keep in contact with her and at this time her whereabouts is unknown, as is her son’s.

I have now been trying to trace Kathryn and her son James’s for a year with all the professional recourses available to me. We are no further forward now than we were a year ago. The only information I have received is that her last known whereabouts was in Maruchydore, NSW in 2002 but since then, there has been no word. We have now put it in the hands of the missing person’s bureau in Australia.

Tony adds:
What were they thinking all those years ago sending us kids to Australia, like they did with convicts? A land completely alien to us all, where we were just “making up the numbers”, and providing cheap labour. Although a few did make a good life for themselves, the few does not outweigh the thousands that didn’t…..

Tony added October 2010
At last after years of searching I have now managed to track Kathy Hill down alive and well,with the help of an old friend of hers, Dawn. She shared digs with her back those early days. She now lives in Queensland on a caravan park with her son. After sending numerous letters with no reply Dawn took it upon herself and she decided to take a chance and turn up unannounced. She took the long four hour drive north to surprise her, unfortunately Dawn and Kathryn’s reunion was not a pleasant and definately not the one Dawn imagined. As with many other child migrants they would rather forget that part of their lives that caused them so much pain. After travelling so far to catch up with her old friend ,who she had been searching years for, she was sent packing.

Dawn said to me that she was no longer the tall beautiful happy go lucky girl she used to know, the years had taken its toll and was very bitter with the world. SO SAD

Thank you – Tony.

Below: The Hill family children with the singing Rabbi. This is the last photo of them together, taken in Sydney airport, 1965. It is the last photo to include all the children, and, the last known photo of Kathryn.


Some exclusive pictures to accompany the book

A Pebble On The Beach


Thank you very much for sending me a copy of Pebble on The Beach. My Goodness, you have been through the mill! Well done for all of it and for managing to turn it into a very inspirational read.

– Fiona Phillips X