From Australia to Burnley - family reunion after 39 years

(left to right) Jean Berry, Sharon Spencer, Pauline Prout, Paul Spencer and Harry Berry in Burnley.'Photo Ben Parsons
(left to right) Jean Berry, Sharon Spencer, Pauline Prout, Paul Spencer and Harry Berry in Burnley.'Photo Ben Parsons

MUM Pauline Spencer did not want to leave Burnley when she was told she and her young family were to make a new life on the other side of the world, but she has never regretted going.

She has only seen her brothers once in the last 39 years, so she is making sure she catches up with old times over the next few weeks on a holiday “back home”.

The Spencer family lived in Lowerhouse Lane, Burnley, near the cricket field, before moving to Melbourne in Australia.

Pauline, nee Berry, went to Coal Clough School and worked at Elgin as a machinist.

She and her ex-husband, John, were married at Lowerhouse Methodist Chapel in 1959 and had four sons.

The family emigrated in 1972, and it was seven years later that she and her son, Paul, who was 10 when he left Burnley, made the trip back to Burnley when she travelled with him at the start of his back-packing trip around Europe.

Thirty two years on, Pauline (71) has made the journey again, this time with Paul (now 50) and his wife, Sharon.

She is staying with her “baby” brother, Harry, and sister-in-law Jean, who live in Belmont Grove, Burnley, and will also be seeing her other brothers, Peter, who lives just around the corner, and Clifford, who lives in Colne.

Said Harry: “It was absolutely brilliant to see her. I’ve been looking forward to this for months. It will be lovely to be able to take her out on day trips.”

Pauline and Paul’s visit, in 1979, was made more memorable because it was a white Christmas, but she is hoping for kinder weather this time so she can enjoy some sightseeing. Towneley Hall was first on the agenda, where Australian-born Sharon saw a squirrel for the first time in her life.

Said Pauline: “We never went anywhere when I lived here. Blackpool and Morecambe were as far as I got, so it will be lovely to see the countryside and go off into the Yorkshire Dales. I was born in County Durham and came to Burnley when I was two, so it would be nice to see something of Durham.”

Pauline gained two step-sons when she remarried. Now Mrs Prout, she has eight grandchildren and two great grandchildren. She lives in Melton, a suburb west of Melbourne.She said: “I didn’t want to leave my family in Burnley, but I have no regrets. It is a better quality of life, and I would recommend it. I wouldn’t come back; it is too cold, and too expensive.”

Paul, who works at Melbourne Airport, and Sharon who supports children with learning difficulties at school, are doing their own version of Paul’s European adventure. They are staying with a friend, Leslie Halstead, of Lingmoor Drive, Burnley, before heading off to Paris, Barcelona, Rome and the Greek Islands. The couple live in South Morang, a suburb to the north of Melbourne, and have two children, aged 18 and 19.