"Given the lives of plenty that some of us live today, when I look back to the time when our family first came to England from Ireland as economic migrants, I recall many of the hardships that we initially faced.
My father got a job working down the pit on the coal face in Birstal and we rented, what I remember as being a little cottage in Hightown, Liversedge, very close to 'St. Barnabas Church.'
Many years later during my first marriage, I showed my two oldest children where his dad, siblings and parents lived when they arrived in England in 1946/1947. I could hardly believe that in the entire space of what I recalled as an idyllic cottage, now stood on ground which a single prefabricated garage now totally filled! I also remember growing up with livestock, going to an outside loo without a flush and all of the family sleeping top to tails in one single room. While we were unable to afford proper bed coverings at the time, we would supplement our warmth by putting the coats that we wore on our backs during the day on our beds during the night. As to the livestock I remembered feeding daily, it amounted to four or five laying hens. I used to love going to Bradford Market with my father on a weekend to pick up some newly born chickens. I was allowed to carry the chirping box with air holes in on the bus back home. Nothing looks as cuddly or as vulnerable as a newborn chick. Little did I guess that I was nursing the next Christmas dinner.
Being a large family of seven children (please note, not the family in the photograph), one might think that I had a deprived upbringing, but believe me when I tell you I didn't. Try as I may, though there were undoubtedly a number of times that I went to bed hungrier than I might have liked, there were fewer days than the fingers on one hand when I did not feel that I grew up a happy child with loving parents and siblings that provided a family bond that will never be broken!
Many times during my upbringing my mother would tell me, 'Billy, we may have no money to leave you when we die and you might have to clear a few of our debts, but your inheritance is greater than you know. It is your six brothers and sisters!' Mum was right. Over the years I have grown to appreciate that family is just not an important thing, it is everything!" William Forde: April 3rd, 2017.