Pictures from the archive: (click on an image to see a larger version and to view the gallery as a slideshow.)

See below for more images.

The Vision

Founded in 1951 by local schoolteachers Joyce Pearce OBE, Ruth Hicks and Margaret Dixon to help displaced children after World War II, the charity took its name from Miss Pearce’s family home Ockenden in White Rose Lane, Woking. From these humble beginnings it worked for 50 years helping refugees from around the world.

The initial object of the charity was to receive small numbers of Eastern European teenagers from post World War II displaced persons camps in Germany, and to support them through their secondary education.  Although the charity remained small in scale and personal in ethos, within a few years world events and the increasing numbers of refugees world wide would lead it to widen both its remit and its scope, first to help children and students outside Europe during the 1960s, then to play a leading role in the admission and resettlement of Tibetans fleeing oppression and the Vietnamese Boat People.

Vietnamese Boat children 1978.

Vietnamese Boat children 1978.

Ingrid Bergman 1965.

Ingrid Bergman 1965.

Ingrid Bergman 1965.

Ingrid Bergman 1965.

2009 marked the 50th anniversary of World Refugee Year and it was therefore fitting that Ockenden International, a Woking based charity that has provided shelter, training, education and hope for thousands of refugees from around the globe, should have its history preserved thanks to a grant of 42,300 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
The grant enabled the charity’s extensive archive, held at Surrey History Centre, to be catalogued and made available online. The memories of those who either worked for or were helped by the charity were recorded and surviving historic film digitised and preserved for the future. Research using these sources tied in to the production of The Vision by Woking Community Play Association performed in the first part of 2010.The Ockenden Venture took over Stoatley Rough School in 1960 and renamed it Quartermaine. Click here to find out more about Stoatley Rough School.

The Archive

The archive of Ockenden International, formerly the Ockenden Venture (SHC Ref 7155), is a major acquisition numbering over 100 boxes and some 40 archive films. In particular, it is an important source for the study of the reception of refugees into the United Kingdom from the 1950s to the 1980s.  The records were taken from the attic of the charity’s offices in Woking and include minutes, annual reports, correspondence, papers of the founding members, personal files and a large photographic archive. These record in detail the development of policy, life of the refugees and staff in the Ockenden houses in Woking, Haslemere and elsewhere, and overseas projects in Asia, the Middle East and northern Africa.

Birmingham Archives’ Iron Room blog includes an article about Ockenden home, Westholme, in Bourneville, Birmingham. Read about it here: https://theironroom.wordpress.com/2017/06/19/the-ockenden-venture-westholme/

Click here to read a poem ( pdf) written by Vietnamese refugee, Le Con (b.1919). Le arrived in England in Nov 1979, aged 60 years old and was initially placed at the Ockenden reception centre at Sunshine House, Gosport.

Click here to read an extract (pdf) from a letter about Ockenden, written by Tibetan refugee, Ugyan Norbu, who came to the UK in the 1970s.

t_Darnwalla_letter_small

Keith Shaw-Ashton worked at Keffolds in the 1960s and wrote and article about Ockenden for the Readers Digest. Read a response that came from India. The transcript is available as a pdf () document. Click on the small image to see the original letter.

More pictures from the archive: (click on an image to see a larger version and to view the gallery as a slideshow.)

For more information about the Ockenden Archive, please contact Surrey Heritage, email [email protected] or telephone 01483 518737.

 

Click here to download a pdf () copy of the Ockenden bibliography.

The Play

Ockenden has always been a subject of local pride in Woking and the Woking Community Play Association staged a specially written drama, The Vision, to celebrate the inspiring history of Ockenden. The Vision was based on the tales from the charity which was founded in 1951 by three school teachers Joyce Pearce, Margaret Dixon and Ruth Hicks. The charity went on to achieve international status, in particular for their work with the Vietnamese Boat people and for helping refugees and displaced people. The play was written and directed by Rib Davis, well known local Oral Historian and playwright.

First the play, then the exhibition and now the book!

“The Vision Book – A Suitcase Full of Recollections”

64 Responses to Ockenden International: from Vision to Venture

  1. sonia wicks says:

    dear ockenden my mum was 10 yrs old when she came to brockenhill woking england from germany in 1960 (march 27th). She has just had a reunion with three of her friends from brockenhill.we would love to be part of anything ockenden intl is doing.

  2. I hace just had the most precious reunion with three of my friends from the ockenden
    1960-1969. On 3october I celebrated my 60th birthday. It was just amazing to meet up after so many years. Let us hope that next year will be as exciting as my birthday was.Looking forward to hear how all progessess.

    • Carol Dewey ( Webb) says:

      Ursula, I have tried many times over the years to get in touch with you. I hope you remember me from Sheerwater School. I would love to hear from you and I hope this gets to you and that you are well
      Best wishes Carol

    • Krystyna Hayton says:

      Hi Ursula, I shared a dormitory with you in Broken Hill!! You often lent me your lipstick and I was the one who made up various plays which we acted out. I remember you so well and the fun times we had.I was known as Christa, I would love to hear from you!!!
      lots of love ,xxx

  3. Hello, I was advised by Jill Hyams to do this, so here goes!! In 1980/81, my family had a great lad called Tran Thien Nang to stay with us whilst he was living in “Delapre House” in Bridport, Dorset. The last we heard, he was relocated to Wellington in Shropshire, the address we were given is no longer there. We are desperately trying to trace him, to see how he is and to just get in contact with him!! He is very special to all of my family and it would be great to meet him again!! If anyone has any information about Nang, could you please leave a message on this page? I could then get in contact with you. Please help if you can!! Many thanks for reading this, Debbie Murphy

  4. How lovely to see these comments, please do get in touch we would love you to come and see the play or be involved in someway. the website is http://www.thevision.org Look forward to hearing from you

  5. I was with the Ockenden Venture from late 1959 until 1966. I have just found out about the play and shall be attending on Thursday 6th May.
    Exploring the web has brought back memories and
    it would be lovely to think I may be able to find out or be reunited with some of the girls from that time who may remember me.

  6. Karin Rogala says:

    Dear Basia Moore (Barbara Mlynowska), First of all, I’m so glad that I have the opportunity to thank the Ockenden Venture organization very much for the chance that was given to me enjoying a good education, which definitely has shaped my professional career. I came to England in 1964. During my professional life in Germany (having returned from The Abbey, Sutton Courtenay, in 1966), compared with candidates without experience abroad, I have always benefited from my good language skills and the acquired linguistic (yes, I know, I need a brush-up!). From time to time I have a look at The Abbey homepage. Though purpose and interior have changed completely, the building and surroundings still mean the same for me. The Abbey was a wonderful place to live in, although missing my home far away, and to develop. Thank you so much again. And now you have my whole attention, dear Barbara. Who wouldn’t remember a kind and unpretentious person like you, I see you so clearly Babs (I think that’s how we called you). I’d really love to hear from you. Currently, the easiest way to get in touch is via Facebook. Therefore, I suggest you enter the link, which is free of charge, and you make a so-called “friendship request” which I will, of course, confirm. I’m so excited and very much hope to hear from you soon. Kind regards from Karin Rogala, Dusseldorf, Germany

  7. Message for Karin Rogala.
    I am not on facebook – am thinking about it. Meanwhile you could use my email address which you can obtain via Jill Hyams at the Surrey History Centre.
    Lovely to hear from you and you are right, we owe The Ockenden Venture a great deal – I am just sorry I left getting back in touch so late.
    Wouldn\\\’t it be great to have a small reunion? I have made all my contact details available to anyone enquiring from The Ockenden during my time there via Jill Hyams
    I hope and shall look forward to hearing from you again very soon.
    Basia (Babs)

  8. My sister Wanda and I was one of the refugees at Ockenden Venture. We lived in the Lake District Ambleside in the 60s. How come there is nothing about the Ambleside house or the children that were placed there. Is there anyone out there who was there at the time??? Would like to hear from anyone who remembers us. We came from Ludwigsburg Germany and we where Polish descent.
    Also we were transfered to Broken Hill in Woking that is where we lived until we left.

    V/R
    Janina

    • Elaine Morton says:

      I remember you very well, my grandmother lived in Millans Park and me and my friend Jennifer Thompson often came round to play at Windlehurst. I also went to school with you at Ambleside St Mary’s juniors although I think you were a little older than me. I remember a girl called Helena too – she was very good at sport. How wonderful it would be to hear from you and share memories
      Elaine Morton.

      • Janina Wyrembek Radford says:

        Elaine I remember going to school in ambleside I am sorry I really can’t remember who went to school. We did not have many friends that came to windlehurst. If you like to contact me my e mail is [email protected].

  9. Jill Hyams says:

    Hi Janina. Hopefully you received my email. As I mentioned, the catalogue will be going online soon. There is plenty of information about the various Ockenden houses in the archive, including news cuttings about Windlehurst in Ambleside. I hope you will be able to come and visit us.

  10. Violet Peart says:

    I am desperately trying to locate a friend who was residing in Sutton Courtenay in 1960-63 She lived in The Abbey at Sutton Courtenay and her name was Zdzisia Kucharska (her sister\’s name was Zena Kucharska) and she returned to Munich in 1963. She was Polish. Can you please help me with my request. I have been searching for Zdzisia since 1970 with no success.

  11. To Jill Hyams, please send me information in reference Windlehurst, Ambleside. I have not received anything from anyone yet.
    Thanks
    Janina

  12. My family, and others at our church, supported Ockenden for many years, and we had one of the Polish girls, Josefa Tylka, to stay several times. We used to visit Keffolds for their open days. We lost touch as we grew up, and when Josefa married, she didn\’t respond to my parents lettters any more. But they went on supporting the charity until they died in 1990s. It is great to see the good work recognised. I have some photos of the Polish girls dancing if anyone is interested.

  13. My sister Danuta and I lived in Ambeleside in the 60\’s. I do rembember you Janina Wyrembek and Wanda, like to get in touch with you.

  14. To anyone who lived in Ambleside with Janina Wyrembek and Wanda Wyrembek you can contact me at my e-mail address in the USA under [email protected] I would love to hear from the girls that lived there in the 60’s. Janina

  15. Wieska and Danuta the twins, I remember you both please get in contact with me would love to hear from you both. I have contact with a couple of the girls. Janina

  16. Jill Hyams says:

    There\’s a wonderful collection of over 300 photos on the \”Keffolds – Ockenden\” Facebook group.

  17. emma says:

    hi Janina Radford Wyrembe i see you know daunta and bogumila the twins i was just wondering if you have heard off them or know there where abouts as i am trying to find them as they are my aunties who i have never seen and my dad would love to see them again as it was years ago he last saw them and lost there address plz if anyone knows there where abouts plz email me on [email protected] or ring me 07971395827 thanks any comments would be gratefull.

  18. Mark Dawson says:

    Hi
    I am in the process of researching into the life and times of Liz Thomas, a British nurse who worked at a number of Okenden Venture orphanages in Saigon Vietnam from 1972 until 1975. If anyone has any information or pictures of Liz or of the mission or any possible contacts with persons who were involved with the Vietnam operation or perhaps knew her after she returned to the UK I would be most grateful for any information. The outcome of this research is the production of a 55 minute dramatised documentary.
    Thank you
    Mark Dawson
    Indochina Productions

  19. Morag davies says:

    Does anyone have any photo’s of my parents Armin and Jessie Davies who were at Keffolds 1966- 1967 then went on to Qaurtermaine house 1967-1970 . I was a small child as were my brother Alistair and my sister catherine . My parents worked for okenden .

  20. Rosita Matyniowna says:

    Hello
    Our family came to England in the early 60s with Ockendon Venture from Germany. My sisters were Halina, Janina, Anna-Marie and Irena Jersorski. My brothers are Stan and Joseph. We lived in Ambleside, Surrey and Yorkshire with Mr and Mrs Lovell.

    • Jill Hyams says:

      Hi Rosita. In the archive, there is a copy of a 1965 Granada TV programme about the Ockenden house at Bickerton Grange, Wetherby, Yorkshire. It has interviews with houseparents, Sidney (Tom) and Pattie Lovell, and with some of the children. I wonder if you or your sisters and brothers are in the programme?

    • Shirley Lambert says:

      Hi Rosita,
      I have been trying for many years to make contact with your sister Janina, we were in the same class at St James School Wetherby, before you all moved to Ambleside. Is there any way you could let her know I’m looking for her ?
      Shirley (Lambert)

      • Rosita says:

        Hello Shirley
        I’m sorry to say Janina passed away in 2003 and has a memorable place in Bolton in ainsty church. Janina has 3 boys and a daughter.
        Rosita

  21. Elizabeth Tran says:

    Hello Ockenden,
    My family came to stay in Keffolds in the summer of 1975, before we got resettled in Cambridge. We stayed there as Vietnamese refugees and were met with other Vietnamese orphans whom we helped in to look after. We made new friends with other refugees from Tibet, Ethiopia, Poland…and with many great social workers (Sue, Paul, David, Nick,…). I cherish forever the time we spent in Keffolds, my first few learning steps in my new English life. If anyone remembered the Tran family of Summer 75 in Keffolds, please get in touch by mail, I’d love so much to hear from you!
    A Big Thank You to the late Mrs Joyce Pearce and Ockenden, we are forever indebted.

  22. Jill Hyams says:

    Hello Elizabeth. Have you visited the Ockenden Keffolds page on Facebook? If not, it might be worth leaving a message there.

  23. Janina Wyrembek Radford says:

    I am looking for Krista Gebert she was living in Venture house she worked at Jaegers in London after graduating from school.when I was there. If anyone has any information or if anyone remembers me I would love to hear from you. I live in the USA

    [email protected]

  24. Stanislaw Gorski says:

    I would like to contact Zdislaw Babecki, who was my best friend at Donington Hall from 1957 to 1959. I believe that he now lives in Stone, Staffordshire. My name is Stanislaw Gorski and my phone number is 01483 725826. Thank You.

  25. Dawid Tkocz says:

    Hi,
    One of my neighbours used to work for Ockenden Venture between 1958-1960. He`s quite keen to get in touch with someone from Donnington Hall from that time. He gave me a list of names from the past he remebers: some of them are Babecki Zdzislaw, Pigula Zbigniew and Ryszard, Maslowski Wiktor, Kozlowski Jerzy. If anyone could help me to contact them could you please write to me. Thank you, Dawid Tkocz

  26. Paul Song says:

    Would love to find out more about Bickerton Grange in North Yorks. My Grandparents Tom and Pat Lovell ran it on behalf of Ockenden.

    • Jill Hyams says:

      Hello Paul. We hold a copy of a 1965 Granada TV programme about Bickerton Grange. It’s narrated by Michael Parkinson and has interviews with Mr & Mrs Lovell and some of the children. If you’re able to visit Surrey History Centre in Woking, you’re very welcome to come and view the programme.

  27. Tamara Mills says:

    Hello, I am Tamara Murtaza and I lived in the Abby in Sutton Courtney for 1960.
    I would love to here from anybody that remembers me and I have such fond memories of my time there x

    • Jolacola says:

      Hi Tamara I remember you. I was at the Abbey for two years and studied at the North Berks. College. Greetings from Munich. Jola

  28. Sonia wicks says:

    Hi carol Webb and kryztyna

    Ursula Wicks ( filipuik ) says hello my friends . Please email my daughter sonia so she can pass me your details .
    [email protected]

    Kind regards

  29. I just came back from a visit to England last week with my daughter and grandson. We did a lot of sightseeing in London and stayed in Woking. Got to meet up with my dear friend Ursula Wicks and her husband Pete. We also visited the Surrey History Centre and met Jill Hyams; a very nice and lovely lady. If anyone remembers me from Broken Hill House in Guildford Road, Woking please email me via Jill Hyams.

    • Jill Hyams says:

      Thanks for your kind words, Renate. We look forward to seeing you again at Surrey History Centre on your next visit to the UK.

    • Sofia Tylka says:

      Good to have a catch-up awhile ago. How’s things at your end? Any updates on Amberg? Do you ever see Anni or my bro Wladek in town?

      • Elly Ghassemi says:

        Dear Sofia,
        my name is Elly and I am searching for a Sofia Tylka who used to be a very close friend of my father.
        My father’s name is Hassan Ghassemi, but he had a nickname called Fred.
        I would be very greatful receiving a response from you.
        Best wishes
        Elly

    • Krystyna Hayton says:

      Hi Renate Senczak! I remember you from Broken Hill in Woking with Mrs.Charlotte as our House mother.I have still got a picture of you and Ursula in my photo album !!Please get in touch with me, I would really love to hear from you and hope you are well.Everyone at Broken Hill called me Christa it would be good to reminisce..Am I right you had a little sister called Susi ?
      krystyna

      • Renate Senczak says:

        Hello Krystyna,
        I don’t quite remember. But if you are you the one that we called Tina then I do. Yes I was there with Ursula when Miss Charlotte was our housemother. You can contact me at [email protected]
        Perhaps you can send me the picture you have to my email address; that way it won’t appear on this public web page.

  30. Gavin says:

    My sister Rachel worked at Windlehurst in the early ’60s. I visited once or twice as I drove her over from our home in Robin Hood’s Bay. Rachel still lives in a small farm there. We speak often on the phone. I recall Mrs Taylor who was in charge then and of course Mary Birkett who called in frequently (and tried to hijack my Land Rover for her archaeological digs at Hardknott Roman Fort). I seem to recall packing quite a few children into my Land Rover for outings. There was certainly a Wanda there – about 12? – mischievous!

    Gavin

    • Janina Radford says:

      Gavin
      wanda is my sister i remember Rachel in fact u have a picture of her and myself. Oh yes who can forget ms. Beckit a lovely lady.

      • Gavin Jones says:

        Sorry. Only just seen this as other things obtruded. I sent a reply to Phil Cooper today. I don’t have any picture of you and Rachel – but then it is a long time ago and a divorce etc means most of my stuff disappeared. I remember you all as a very cheerful bunch. I will pass on a message to Rachel if you send one – she doesn’t have a computer so I will print it off and post it to her. She just celebrated her 79th birthday – scary how time flies.

        Gavin

  31. Andi Storeck says:

    I was a child of the 50’s living in Kingfield, the son of a Polish father and English mother, and walked past the White Rose Lane Ockenden Venture site most days on my way to school, or church (St. Dunstans). Mother painted a horrific picture of the ‘inmates’ and I was warned never to talk to those awful boys let alone think of playing with them. The bigotry that existed then I hadn’t the life experience to understand but was always ashamed of my behaviour in obeying my parent’s commands and accepting the attitude of my young peers who would insult, throw objects at those young people from the Venture. I still feel that guilt, and having found this site by accident, I take this opportunity to apologise unreservedly for the actions of the horrible toe-rags that we were

  32. Sofia Tylka says:

    Anyone who knew of the Tylka family, please get in touch, for a catch-up and memoires of Ockenden Venture. Am the youngest of the family, lived in Keffolds.

    • MOJABENG KHOAPA says:

      I know of Sofia, David and Andrew Mesfin from Ethopia who were there when my family and I were there. We were from South Africa en route to the U.S. Like everyone, looking back, what a gift, what a blessing and will forever grateful for Ms. Pearce and the staff.

  33. Andrew says:

    I worked at Kilmore house in Camberley in the early 80’s with Diane Worsely and her team. Some great people and amazing residents, even though I did not realise it all at the time. God bless you all.

  34. Gavin says:

    Hi there, I came across the Ockenden site recently. My sister, Rachel Jones, worked at Windlehurst in Ambleside for a year or two in the ’60s. I sometimes used to drive her over from our family home in Yorkshire. As I recall, a Mrs Taylor was in charge. She had a house in Grasmere. The late Mary Burkett also was in some way involved. I remember being hijacked with my Landrover once to take the children our for a picnic. I don’t recall any of the children except one called Wanda who was very mischievous – about 10 or so? I remember she had a large and humorous mouth. My sister is now a widow and living in her small farm in Yorkshire with a few sheep, cattle and ponies.

    Gavin Jones

  35. Michael Oram says:

    In 1975 I was a member of Camberley Round Table and lived near Kilmore House. One weekend lunchtime a visitor called at the door, saying they had been referred to me, and might Round Table possibly help get Kilmore House ready to receive around 30 severely disabled Vietnamese Orphans of both sexes, in three days time?
    A quick view of the unoccupied 3-storey Edwardian detached house showed it to be unkempt; dirty and needing some repair. It had insufficient useable furniture and beds, the central heating didn’t function, there was no laundry and the kitchen was basic to say the least. Bedding, towels, etc., were non-existent.
    The prospect was daunting!
    To cut a long story short; in just full 2 days, through around 20 Round Tablers and their wives, a host of local trades-people and other volunteers who seemed to just turn up (all working round the clock) Kilmore House had been repaired, cleaned and fully furnished; central heating repaired and with sufficient fuel, and there was a laundry and functional kitchen. There were specialist nurses on hand willing to work turn-about shifts. The separate Lodge was full to the ceilings on both floors with mostly-new clothes, and toys but also cleaning materials and toiletries. There was probably enough toilet paper to go twice round the County!
    All that though turned out to be the easy part…The harder bit came in seeking to manage excess; of clothes and toys that continued to flow in, but especially excess of mostly well-meaning people, in order to enable privacy and calm for the children after they arrived and allow the charity’s staff and the volunteer nurses to attend to their needs.
    All-in-all though, a magnificent community response.

    • Your post was lovely to read (about your work at Kilmore House in the 1970s) – well done to everyone involved. I’ve been thinking in the last few days about how this sort of thing should happen again. All those pubs standing empty and unused across the country… convert them into refugee accommodation… 🙂

  36. sofia tylka says:

    Yes, I remember your family. Your mum was a good cook.

  37. Sally Wilkinson says:

    Hi
    Does anyone remember my grandmother who worked, I think, as a relief House Mother in the 1950s and 1960s – Winifred Beckett. I know she was at Ockendon, Keffolds, Windlehurst, Donnington Hall, Woodleigh, Bickerton Grange, Burgh Hill, Broken Hill – from our old family address book. I remember meeting a Polish family called the Ziddychins (sp?) one summer (probably1963/4/5) again I think at Burgh Hill.
    Any memories would be gratefully received as I am writing her biography.(Not as book to be published – just for the family)
    Sally

  38. Hello, I’m trying to find out more about the play (The Vision) produced in 2010 about the work of Ockenden Venture. Can anyone put me in touch with someone who can help? I came to this site a few days ago as the refugee situation reminded me so strongly of the times back in the early 80s when Ockenden had a building here in Barmouth – where Vietnamese ‘boat people’ were helped and looked after. I remember my Mum helping a boy called Hwng (?) to learn English and I remember other Vietnamese children attending our school. I now manage a theatre in Barmouth and am interested in finding out more about the play. Please contact me on [email protected] if you can help. Thanks, Allison

  39. Keith Martin says:

    I’m trying to donate a 23″ Hitachi TV (old-style with CRT) to the Ockenden Venture (if indeed they would accept it). It is in perfect working order, but I’ve been unable to establish their contact details & would be very helpful for any help in this regard. Many thanks.

  40. Jill Hyams says:

    Hi Keith. I’ve sent you an email. Best wishes, Jill (Surrey History Centre)

  41. Stanislaw Mysiuk says:

    Hi Ockenden Venture visitors,
    I’m looking for contact with anybody who knew me, during my stay in several Ockenden Venture Houses.
    My name is Stanislaw Szewenko and I lived in 2 houses in Woking. Then I went to Haslemere, Surrey. Last at Quartermain (Stokely Rough), then I moved to Donnington Hall. After that I went back to Quartermaine. Then I moved to Birmingham, where I worked as an apprentised gun smith and from there I dropped out of the system. Anybody who knows me from those days and wants to communicate can contact me on the following email-address : [email protected] and this is not a joke, this really is my email-address!!
    If you’re interested you can contact me!
    PS My name was changed in the seventies due to familymatters.

  42. Erika Liepins says:

    Does anyone have photos from 1958 / 1965 my name is Erika Liepins. I lived in Haslemer ( Keffolds )

    • hallo erika

      my names norbert, now in hannover germany.
      is elmar liepins your brother? he and me were at beech hill house nr. , reading in the 1965/66 s, we are friends by facebook.

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