News Shopper helps former Sidcup children's home residents meet for first time in 50 years (From News Shopper)
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News Shopper helps former Sidcup children's home residents meet for first time in 50 years
TWO former residents of a Sidcup children’s home met up for the first time in half a century – all thanks to News Shopper.
Paul Krawczynski, 65, and Michael Risley, 64, shared a room with four other boys at the Hollies Children’s Home in Sidcup in the 1950s.
They had not seen each other since 1963 when Mr Risley saw a news-in-brief item in the News Shopper advertising the annual reunion for former residents of the home in Burnt Oak Lane.
He decided to go along on September 7 to what is now the Hollies Countryside Club which used to house the Lamorbey Children’s Home and Lamorbey Residential School, as the Hollies was known.
Event organiser Mr Krawczynski was delighted to see his old friend almost exactly 50 years to the day since they last met.
Children from Laurel House at the Hollies in 1956 with Michael Risley and Paul Krawczynski third and fourth from the right at the back.
He told News Shopper: "There were a few people in particular I was hoping I might find and Michael was one of them.
"After we left the home I went abroad with the forces and he stayed around Sidcup. Every year someone comes back to bury their ghosts."
The Hollies first opened in 1902 and was home to up to 500 orphaned or vulnerable children at any one time until it closed in 1989.
Mr Krawczynski, who now lives in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, founded the Hollies Children’s Home Reunion Group with his wife in 2002 and this year’s gathering drew around 100 people from as far afield as Australia and the USA.
He arrived at the home at the age of three-and-a-half in 1951 and left when he was 15 in 1963.
Left to right: Jacquiline Pointer ('52-'60) and Valerie Barnes ('56-'65).
He said: "A lot of people ask the question what draws people back to the Hollies but it is our sanctuary.
"I loved it there and to me it was my home. I was institutionalised and some people don’t like that word but I don’t mind using it."
Mr Krawczynski even ran away from a foster home at the age of 11 just so he could be sent back to the Hollies where boxing legend Chris Eubank and presenter of TV quiz show Fifteen to One William G. Stewart also spent time.
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