Beginning in July 1988, (Delvin) John Flynn has built a network of old boys from the long-closed St. Mary's Orphanage, Gravesend, Kent, England. Some had left to join the Armed Forces, others were shipped to Australia and Canada - many into cruel situations - while a few migrated to live far away as possible from England's shores. Initially using the post and later adopting email, old boys joined in to recall their memories and friendships.
Delvin did not realize at the outset how profoundly this would effect so many. Nor did he anticipate how much fortitude and perseverance would be required to confront the past. Nevertheless, following his personal motto of KOKO (Keep On Keeping On), the old boys - plus a few honourary old girl members - now have a "family" relationship to which every group member supports, loves and shares with few reservations.
The Courage to Look Back is the sequel to The Boys of St. Mary's (published in 2015). Some remembrances are chapter-length accounts, others are poignant brief anecdotes. Many stories in this book flow from decisions by the Catholic System and the British Government in 1952/53 to migrate young children from Orphanages and Homes to provide child labour and increase the population of Commonwealth countries. Boys at St. Mary's, as young as five-years-old, were convinced by Catholic Priests and Nuns to go to Australia, Canada and other former colonies, with promises of sunshine, oranges and ponies. Little did these young lads realize what lay ahead of them when sailing on the SS New Australia, to a country worlds apart from their place of birth, many never to return.
Nearly 30 years after its founding, the KOKO network is strong as ever - a tribute to Delvin's devotion and inspiration to Keep On Keeping On. Thank you, Delvin, we owe you so much!