Barry Woodhams’ Memories

My parents moved from the UK to NR in early 1952 when I was 4 years old (borne in the UK). Then lived in NR/Federation/NR until 1964 – leaving just before independence.

Educated at Codrington School in Mazabuka and then King George VI HS in Broken Hill (Kabwe). I see from Google Earth that both schools still exist! Left at time of O levels and finished my education in the UK.

Was raised on the Veterinary Research Station outside Mazabuka – a 84,000 acre ranch extending down over the flood planes to the Kafue river. Was a boat used on the river for transporting supplies during the dry season when the cattle were moved down onto the flood planes – always a trip worth getting on. Again I see from Google Earth that the houses we lived in still exist. The station housed about 25 European families and a very large African population with a training school for Veterinary Assistants. I guess my childhood on the ranch was idealic – horses, swimming pool, shooting walking etc. As it was  research station lots of vets I could travel out with – they were always keen to have a ‘gate opener and closer with them’ in the Landrover. The laboratories on the station gave me an interest in all things living as their were entomologists, vets, biologists all actively working on the ranch. As there were not that many children on the station (many sent their children back to the UK for school). Also a large movement of people from the station to tours of duty all over the country to run the veterinary services.We were one of the few (only family?) permanently on the station – my father ran the pathology laboratories. Learned my love of bird watching in my early teens from a vet and have never lost this love. This early experience I am sure has significantly influenced the rest of my total life.

We returned to England in 1964. Initially lived in Salisbury Wiltshire – finished school at Bishop Wordsworth GS (a boys only ex church school in the close of Salisbury cathedral). Bishop Wordsworth was relation of Wordsworth the poet. I finished my O levels and then did A levels  (already a biologist – A levels in biology, chemistry, physics!!).  Did a degree in biochemistry and then a PhD. I am a biochemist who has spent the whole of my working life in pathology – initially in London University then in the NHS (another link to my childhood?).

Could never settle in the UK – it was not my home and I was always a foreigner! I never forgot Xmas around  a swimming pool and the wide open space to live in. People never forgot as they could hear my accent (although was considered Australian – I guess because there was only one other foreigner in the school and he was from Australia). I can still remember the difficulty I had understanding some of the locals with their strong accents. Even today some people still cannot place my accent and think I have some South African link. I am sure part of this relates to word usage than accent, more so after living out of the UK again for so long as my language does not keep up with the changes that occur as the language evolves in the UK. Living in the USA and having an Australian wife has also influenced my word usage and probably accent.

Married an Australian – must admit before I met and married my wife in the late 70’s most of my girlfriends were non-English!!! I did not fit properly into England life (certainly not in Wiltshire) – any discussions always go back to child experiences etc and mine were so different from the local population.Who did I support at football – nobody and still do not. Rugby support – South Africa

I do know if it as a consequence of this but have been a nomad all my life – after my PhD worked in the NHS until the late 80’s. Then moved to Switzerland, then the USA and have now lived in France for over 10 years (although a powerful pressure to move was lack of good well paid permanent jobs in the UK so my move was also very economic – my salary more than doubled the day I left the NHS and moved into Industry in Switzerland). I guess my early life along with having an Australian wife (who had no links at all to the UK) made me much more willing to move than most of the UK population. We have been very happy where ever we go – where we live is our home.
Although Africa was my home I have never returned – travelled all around the world but never Africa. Still think one day before I get too old I must go back and look. Although I was a very keen horse man and hunter I have been on a horse 2x since 1964 and I have never fired a gun (other than an airgun) since leaving. The loves I brought back were bird watching swimming and biology!!!

Hope this helps and is the type of information you are after. A life in a few lines.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s