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Five Years Of Vague Shadows

Gayna AttreedThey say the first five years of a child’s life are the most important, where the foundations are laid that will determine the rest of their lives. The nurturing and care you receive in those early years will stay with you for the rest of your life.

Imagine then if the only record you have of your first years is contained in one cardboard file and your memories of growing up are nothing more than vague shadows. That is the poignant story of one woman who is appealing for your help in filling in her early years.

42 year-old Gayna Attreed, is on a pilgrimage of discovery in the hope of finding out more about the five years she spent in Matlock, Derbyshire, as an infant.

Gayna, from Liverpool, was placed in the Ernest Bailey Children's Home on Butts Lane, Matlock Green between 1964 and 1969 and is now hoping to shed some light on her formative years and fill in the blanks.

Born in May 1964,when her mother was only 17, Gayna was sent to the Ernest Bailey home at six weeks old but cannot remember very much about her time there.

Gayna says she wants to find out about her childhood and would love to meet the nurses and staff that cared for her whilst she was in the home.

’I want to fill in the gaps in my memory,’ says Gayna, ‘there is a total void at the moment.’

Gayna is part Cuban and believes that the stigma of mixed-race relations in the 1960s was part of the reason for her being sent to the home.

‘I do not bear a grudge for being sent away, at that time,’ says Gayna, ‘it was the price I paid for being the colour I am.’

Her desire to find out about her history has already led her to her Cuban father Joseph Edison, but sadly he died the day before she managed to make contact with him.

’The first time I ever saw my father was in a coffin,’ Gayna said. ‘The woman at the funeral home knew him and told me I was the spitting image of him, that is the first time in my life I had ever been told that. Even though it was a sad, strange day it was nice to feel that I belonged.’

Gayna visited Matlock last week to catch a glimpse of her former home on Butts Lane.

’I wanted to see my old bedroom, the nursery, simple things like that, I have vague memories of rooms and people but nothing concrete. I need to shed light on the dark patches of memories and get a feeling for the place I spent my early life in.'

‘As I was driving from Buxton towards Matlock I began to feel as if I was being pulled towards the town. I love the greenness, the beautiful stone houses, it is such a lovely environment, it felt comforting to return.’

If anyone has any information about the Ernest Bailey home they can email Gayna at .

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