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
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
’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
’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
’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 firstname.lastname@example.org .