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This story of Ricky, a rather special and charming lady, spans the years from 1909 till 2003. After leaving school at a young age, Ricky went into domestic service. One of her employers took an interest in Ricky and was able to secure a position for her as a nurse probationer in a local hospital. She met her husband Gwyn, a medical doctor in a London hospital. They married in London and because they both wished to travel he joined the British Colonial Medical Service and was seconded to Singapore and British Malaya in 1938.

Gwyn was in charge of a hospital in Kulim in the north of Malaya. In the latter part of 1941 he developed a psychiatric illness requiring hospitalisation in Singapore. Gwyn was in hospital when the Japanese invaded Singapore in February 1942. Ricky, with her two small children, Yvonne and Bronwen, and six months pregnant, had a miraculous and dramatic escape from Singapore a short time before it fell to the Japanese. Gwyn was captured by the Japanese and was a prisoner of war in Changi and Syme Road internment camps for three and a half years. Ricky and the children did not see or hear from him for nearly four years.

Ricky and the children escaped on a small merchant ship that left Singapore just before Singapore fell. After two weeks at sea Ricky and the children arrived in Colombo, Ceylon and then travelled in another ship to Bombay, India. David was born in Bombay and the family then settled in Pachmarhi, a hill station, 864 kilometres inland from Bombay, for nearly three years. Ricky and her children arrived in England from India in February 1945. Gwyn returned to England in December 1945, a very ill man both physically and psychologically. Tessa, the youngest family member, was born in England in 1947. Times were tough and difficult in post-war England from 1945 till 1951. 

The family immigrated to Australia in the latter part of 1951. Ricky experienced much tragedy, was a refugee, a heroine, the lynch pin of her family, an immigrant and a woman of remarkable resilience. She was greatly loved and admired by her children and by all who met her. 

Ricky recorded her family history on tape at the age of 87 and her daughter, Yvonne, had access to letters, documents and photo albums and also was aided by discussions with all of her family members. 

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ISBN: 978-0-9942751-4-1    Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 164
Genre: Non Fiction

Cover: Clive Dalkins




Yvonne Kirkegard
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published:  2015
Language: English




Chapter 1 – Ricky (1911 to 1931)


My mother Ricky died on New Year’s Day 2003, aged 91. She would have reached the age of 92 in June of that year. In her last few weeks the family and I found it very painful to observe her physically wasting and slipping away, yet her mind was still very sharp. It is sad to have a very lucid conversation with a loved person when a short time later they no longer exist. It is very difficult to accept the finality of it all even though one knows that it is inevitable. I consider myself to have been very lucky to have had a mother for 63 years, even though I wish that I had had a few more years to enjoy her.

Up until the age of 87, Ricky enjoyed an active physical life. Despite being widowed at the age of 64, she was content and enjoyed the role of the matriarch of the family.

When Ricky was at her last residence, the nursing home ‘Marycrest’, managed by Catholic nuns of the Sisters of Charity, photos of her family surrounded her. However, the most important photo for her was the one taken of her with her brother and sister when she was a young girl. The three children were all beautifully dressed in their best clothes made for them by their mother. At the time the photo was taken their father was serving in France on the Western Front, during the First World War. Ricky’s childhood memories were happy ones, and that is what she wished to remember when she knew she was dying.

In her last few days she liked quietness, so she could relive her past through memories. I used to sit with her after the initial greeting, pleasantries and attending to a few of her requests, and she enjoyed the silence, living with her memories. I used to sit beside her, close to her bed or to the chair she may have been sitting in at the time, and sometimes read to her until she signified to me that she had had enough.

On occasions she would recite poetry to me, poems she had learnt by heart as a child. I felt very privileged listening to her reciting with her beautiful voice, so precise and so English. Ricky also recited long tracts from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam that she still remembered. I treasured these moments with her. As a Christmas present in 1952, I was given this book in Edward Fitzgerald’s English translation.


The author’s recollections of Ricky’s memories
– Childhood to Age 20

Ricky was born in Islington, East London, on 15 June 1911 to William and Ada Restorick. She was their second child and was named Gladys Irene. Later in life, she became known as Ricky.

The surname Restorick originates from Restowrack, a farm in the parish of St Dennis in Cornwall. The origin of Restowrack is from the Cornish language: ‘ros’ (heath or hill-spur) and ‘dowrack’ (watery). The earliest mention of the surname is from 1254. The surname over the years has been variously spelt as Rostourec 1278, 1293, 1311; Resdourex 1357 and 1370; and Restowrack 1559 and 1618.1

The ancestors of the Restoricks/Restaricks lived in the towns and villages of East Devon from the 17th to the 20th centuries. The towns of relevance to the Restoricks were Axminster, Axmouth, and Beer. Axminster was a little market town; Axmouth was a village described in 1875 as being situated in the midst of orchards, fields, hedges, and trees; Beer was a fishing village, with a quarry whose stone was prized for its easy carving. The stonemasons worked underground. When exposed to the air, the stone becomes very hard. It has been used in many churches and cathedrals in the south of England. Other towns were Colyford, a village once much bigger than it is now; Colyton, the smallest town in Devon situated on the green and pleasant banks of the River Coly amidst water meadows and sheltered by rolling hills; Honiton, noted in the past for the manufacture of fine lace; Ottery St Mary, a market town; Salcombe Regis, with striking coastal scenery; Seaton, a small seaside town; and Sidmouth, which used to be a small market and fishing town, and which has many buildings of a Regency character.2

Henry Restorick of Colyton and Beer, baptised on 26 December 1769, was a distant ancestor of Ricky’s father. The Restoricks of Colyton were bakers from the early eighteenth century, the tradition continuing through Henry Restorick, who settled in Beer around 1792, and his son William, who moved to London in the 1820s and whose descendants were bakers until 1994.3

Ricky’s father, whose name was also William, came from a family of four sons and one daughter (four children died young). His father, who had moved from Shoreditch, was a master baker in Clerkenwell in central London. William, the eldest, was also trained as a baker. He was born on 11 March 1883 at home in Hoxton, the East End of London, and he died on 27 February 1955 at Southend-on-Sea. He married Ada Mary Ann Fox in Hoxton on 22 August 1908. His mother was Elizabeth McCallum4. The bakery named Restorick was at 18 Penton Street, Islington, London, until 1994. The bakehouse was at the rear of the building5.

Ada Fox, Ricky’s mother, came from a family of five girls. She was born at home in Clerkenwell in central London on 8 December 1881. The family lived in Islington, London. Ada’s father, another William, was a vulcaniser described as an India rubber maker. Ada’s mother was Elizabeth Rosina Husk, daughter of Henry and Charlotte Husk, and she was born in 1853 at St Pancras, in central London. Ada was the middle daughter and her profession, as described in the Census of 1901, was a military belt stitcher6.  However, Ricky describes her as a seamstress.

The Fox family attended the Vernon Baptist church. The youngest daughter, May Fox, was a singer. The Fox women were all rather good-looking and Ada, in later life, vowed that when she was young there had been many men interested in her. Ricky recalled her grandfather Fox as a lovely, kind and good man7.

Ada and William met through the church, married in London, and had three children: Percival (later known as Peter), the eldest; Gladys (known later as Ricky and in this story referred to as Ricky); and Sybil. Ada also lost a baby close to term when she was giving the house a spring clean. She fell from a stool while installing recently washed curtains. The family lived at St Pancras, in London.

Ricky’s earliest memories of her childhood were of the dreadful fogs, which she recalled as being almost ‘yellow and black’, the sore throats and enlarged glands in the neck – a cervical adenitis. Ricky also recalled the gas lights. A doctor recommended to Ricky’s mother to get the children away from London to a seaside place, as he doubted the children would live to be 20. The doctor felt the seaside air to be less polluting than the air of London. So her parents decided to move to the nearest seaside town of Southend-on-Sea in Essex, a town 64 kilometres east of London and situated on the north side of the Thames estuary.8


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