Ex-pupil and Croome Volunteer Vincent Conlan
Vincent Conlan - Ex-pupil and Croome Volunteer
What year did you start at St Joseph's?
I arrived in September 1966 when I was 10 years old.
What memories do you have of your time at the school?
My first memory was when I met sister Ursula at Paddington station. I was very frightened, confused and seriously ill. When I met her my heart jumped a beat I knew I was safe probably for the first time in my life.
The other memory I have is sitting under the ‘Vincent Tree’, a tree that was named after me, because I used to sit under it. I would listen to the other boys playing and here I was safe and didn’t get knocked over.
Where did you move onto after St Josephs?
At the age of 13 I went to the senior school Besford Court. By the time I got there I was much healthier because of my time at the school. You would have had no idea that I'd been such a sick child.
Where did you move onto after you left school?
I didn't go home, by that I mean the East coast. I stayed in Worcester; this wasn’t exactly my idea of home at the time. I found myself alone, without any help or guidance and I drifted for a long time until I met a sergeant who gave me a thick ear and helped me grow up.
What was it like coming back to Croome as an adult?
If I hadn't found Patrick Kehoe on Friends Reunited I don't think I would have ever come back. I had been led to believe it was private property and therefore going back was unthinkable.
I found out that it wasn’t privately owned and went to visit. Here I met my friend Alice for the first time. We went for a walk around the whole state. I was quite distressed at the condition of the Red Wing, as this is the place where most of us lived and I felt like we had been extinguished from history. There was nothing of us there; I was worried no one would remember we had been here.
What does volunteering for the National Trust mean to you?
Volunteering at the National Trust for me has been about trying to save the history of the Boys School and trying to put that history into context, so people in the future will understand the past. I believe this is essential and it is very important that the truth can be heard from all aspects of life good and bad.
What are your hopes for the What is Home project?
When you ask a child in the care system what home is to them, their idea could be quite revealing and might help other’s who haven’t been in this situation to understand a little more. I hope the project helps other people who work within the system, to help the children who are currently in care deal their past before they get to 18 years old. I would have found this support helpful.
What will the exhibition mean to the ex-pupils?
Some ex-pupils have had good lives but some have had horrendous lives. Quite frankly we never had a voice before. For the first time in our lives we have the chance for our stories to be heard, it means a lot to us all, it really does. I hope that after 10 years of hard work building a profile that the people behind the project are aware of the importance of the work that they are doing for us.