The Children

The Patrick Bates Story

I was born on the 4th February 1947 at Southlands hospital, Shoreham by Sea Sussex UK, and lived with my mother and older half brother Michael at my Grandmother’s house. My father, at that time, was serving with the Royal Navy, life at first was a bit topsy-turvy with my father coming and going. In February 1948 my brother Terry was born. We were still living at Grans it was getting a little over crowded. We finally we moved into our own house in June 1949, shortly after my half-brother Tony was born in September 1949.

Because of the scandal of “another mans child” my father walked out on us, but what did we know? We were just kids. Mum was Mum and Dad was never there anyway. Life went on as normal until in July 1952 Mum, and us four boys followed her new fiancé Charles (Tony’s father) to the north of England, with the intention of staying there while Charles did his national services. Within two weeks the romance was over, and we all returned to Brighton on the south coast. Shortly after the NSPCC were called in. My brothers and I were put into care. This was to continue on and off until late 1957 during which time my mother gave birth to four more children. James was born in 1953, Judith in 1955, and the twins, Valerie and Janet, in 1957. They were all put up for adoption except for Judith who she decided to keep.

Time came and went as my three brothers and I went to one home or another. Finally in November 1958 I was to go into care with Dr Barnados homes (sea training school) in Dorset, followed shortly after by my brother Terry. Unfortunately for us as new kids on the block we were to suffer physical and mental abuse from the older boys. I was to stay there until my fifteenth birthday. During that period away from home my father returned after eleven years in 1961. Where had he been? Who knows? He re-married my mother one week later.

Little did I know that his return would change the whole course of my life. Unfortunately, although I was the spitting image of my father we never got on. Returning home in 1962 I was in and out of jobs and the father I dreamed of for years wouldn’t give me the time of day.

Luck came my way in 1965 with the opportunity to go to Australia with my brother Tony. Now I was eighteen years old life on the other side of the world could be no worse than here, or could it?

Finally the day arrived for me to set off on my new life. I was the oldest of a group of nine children the youngest being eleven. Our short stay at Barnardos homes in Essex prior to our departure was quite daunting. We couldn’t wait to get to Australia. After two weeks in the home and two days flying we arrived in Australia.

Immediately on arrival our family group was split up and my brother Tony and I were on our way to our new home. But I was a man in a child’s world and couldn’t wait to get out there and get into the midst of it all. I got my first job four days after arrival and moved back into the real world. Unfortunately it wasn’t all I expected as I’d been in institutions all my life and having to fend for myself ,I found it hard.

And so, I was to spend the next ten years going from job to job, city to city, trying to save some money to return home. During this time I had numerous hiccups along the way! I had an accident with a plate glass window in 1967 severing the arteries in my right arm. I got married in 1971 to Brenda and we had one son Paul. The marriage which was short lived and came to an end in 1972. Because of my marriage breakdown, I suffered severe depression and I tried to take my own life. Finally in 1975 I upped sticks and moved to New Zealand and stayed there for the next ten years before returning to England in 1985 to find the grass is not always greener on the other side.

My dreams of home turned into a nightmare I wasn’t welcome. After trying to get back to England for twenty years nothing had changed. Everything was still the same. I eventually saved enough and returned to Newzealand three years later where I met Valerie finally to settle down, or so I thought but for me just one more disastrous relationship I couldn’t hold down.

I am now sixty years old and just returned home after a holiday in England. I often think to my self: “IF ONLY”? “WHAT IF”??? But it’s no good dwelling on the past. Two marriages, one son, one life. It makes you wonder is it all in the genes. Or is it what goes around comes around, who knows?

All I can say is its been a long journey just to get some peace of mind and I wouldn’t wish my past on anybody.

In September 1998 my father Fredrick John Bates died of cancer at the age of 63 and it wasn’t until long after his funeral I was informed about his death ,what a waste all those years and we couldn’t even become friends.

By some miracle, and after 36, years my brother Tony managed to track down my son Paul from my marriage to Brenda in 1971 which was short lived.Paul is now married to Wendy and lives in Sydney Australia and we are now in contact with each other. “My Son”, sounds funny when I say that. He tells me I am a Grandfather.And I hope, in the near future, we can all meet up.

Below: The Bates boys: Patrick, Tony, Michael, and Terry. The picture was taken just before going into care for the first time.


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