Down Memory Lane
Down Memory Lane is the apt title of a compilation of fascinating stories gathered together in an attractive book by residents and friends of The Old Palace to raise funds for their chosen charity - St. Kentigern Hospice.
The collection highlights the importance of cherished memories of childhood and past events encapsulated in detailed recollections and lines of poetry.
A similar production was compiled by the residents back in the 1980’s and some of the stories have been reproduced to add to the current collection with illustrations by Mrs. A. Cartright and Ms Mielczarski of the Old Palace bringing the stories to life and adding a touch of humour.
From an insight to living in the beautiful old building as wife of the late Bishop John Charles, Noleen Charles writes about moving into the then Bishop’s Palace in 1971 with descriptions of the décor and architecture which combine to make it a home as well as a symbol of office.
There are memories of life during the second world war. happy memories of holidays, tales of romance, village life and meetings with famous people. There are stories of working lives, military lives and mysteries and but one of the most gripping stories is that of Nathaniel Ramanaden whose story begins in 1964 when, as a Tamil Christian living in Sri Lanka he was forced to flee the island after being attacked on the beach in Columbo. Married in May 1964 he left Sri Lanka in June with his new wife and just £10 foreign exchange between them to take up a post in Enugu, the capital of East Nigeria before joining an Education Project in the bush 100 miles from the capital.
For a while life settled into a peaceful routine which in 1966 was shattered by the start of a vicious round of killing following a coup in which the Federal Government Premier, the Northern Premier and his wife were killed.
Life in Biafra became intolerable and in 1967 all women and children had to leave and Nathaniel was forced to see his wife and young daughter handed over to the care of the British Consular Officer on board the mercy ship.
Later, as the Nigerian Army advanced, Nathaniel found himself in a very vulnerable position and eventually found a boatwomen prepared to embark on a perilous river journey from Biafra to the relative safety of Kumba, the capital of the Cameroons. In 1967, having sorted out the necessary paper work, he eventually arrived in the UK where the family were reunited and Nathaniel began his career in accountancy.
The present refugee crisis and movement of large numbers of people from Syria and Afghanistan to the safety of the West obviously brings back vivid memories of his own escape from Biafra to the UK with all the attendant hardships and fears of a gruelling journey.
“I must say that my little Bible (New Testament) which accompanied me on the journey is still with me and is always kept in the glove compartment of my car. Every time I change cars the Bible stays with me and my faith has always been my support” said Nathaniel.
A limited edition of “Down Memory Lane” has sold for £5 per copy with all the proceeds going to St. Kentigern Hospice.