Being born speedily on the Leap Year Day of the 29th of February 1944, was for me, quite a shock. The story goes, my poor mother had been administered a hefty dose of Cod liver Oil, (which she hated), as I needed to be delivered and my mother's bed allocated to the next expectant mum! Deliveries were run on a tight schedule in Preston Royal Infirmary at that time. Nature being allowed to take its course was a rare luxury the hospital could not afford, with all us 'war babies' coming into the world.
At that time, my father, Lesley Ashdown, was serving in the RAF. After my arrival, he was promptly shipped off to the Middle East until well after the end of the war. I had an elder sister, Jackie and a brother called Russell. Having successfully survived some near misses when serving abroad, my father returned to England to be 'demobbed. It was then our family left the North of England to settle again in the town of my father's birth, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.
Life in that pleasant market town was where I formed my earliest memories. It seems my health was not too good so I had periods off school and spells in hospital. This made my school life rather a struggle. One of my most vivid memories was of being packed off at six years old, to recover my health in a coastal Convalescent Home in Sandwich Bay, Kent. To me, at that tender age, it was a traumatic event! Suddenly bereft of all that was safe and familiar, I found myself in a Post War Institution, were the routine mirrored something along the lines of a harsh Victorian boarding school. Each child took responsibility to clean their iron bedstead and turn their mattress weekly during laundry changes. A change of clothes was also only administered weekly, so wow-be-tide anyone who had an accident, especially as the only toilet facility at night, was a large communal, stinky potty, placed in the middle of the dormitory. Fridays became a nightmare for me as each child lined up outside the 'Sick Bay' to take the weekly dose of "BlackJack!" As I lined up for the first time, I had no clue what this "Blackjack" was. The older kids found great delight in terrifying me with their stories. By the time I entered 'Sick Bay' I was full of deep apprehension and my worst fears were quickly realised. How long I was held there I have no idea, but daylight was streaming through the window when I entered the room and when I was finally taken to my bed in the dormitory, everything was shrouded in deep darkness. The time in-between was spent forcibly being made to swallow the dreaded "BlackJack" then tearfully vomiting it out into the stone sink in the corner of the room. Finally Matron was sent for, then the three of them started a second round of forcible administration. My stomach simply could not keep it down. From that time on I was considered a most difficult and wilful child! But I do have the clear memory of one small victory. It came on the day I was finally being allowed home. When the other children and I filed in for breakfast, we were served a bowl of cereal. On this particular morning the milk as stinking sour, but they continued to serve it. I just couldn't eat it. Needles to say I was hauled up to the top table to be dealt with by Matron. I remember pleading with her, saying,
'Please don't make me eat it, I'm going home today. Please, please don't make me, Please, No!'
At that, the angry woman stood me on a chair in front of the rows of tables and ridiculed me. Everyone laughed and sniggered as they downed their breakfast... Later that day, as our private coach, full with returning children, travelled back from Kent to central London, the nightmare began... First one child was sick, and then another. On and on it went, until every child was vomiting profusely. The nurse on broad was running up and down the gangway with her solitary, and very inadequate bucket. That bus was awash with stinking sick as I pressed my face into the window to keep out the smell. I was the only one who remained safe.
It was a glorious moment when that bus parked up under Big Ben and I ran out into the fresh air and my mother's arms!
Needless to say, any days I could spend with my mother, doing my favourite things like drawing and painting were very precious to me. They were indeed very happy times as my mum (Marjorie), was a trained and talented artist. Writing came later for me when I was fortunate enough to get into a good girls' senior school. There I started to flourished and enjoy school life. My ability in art was encouraged to the point that my teachers' hoped I would go on to qualify as a teacher. However, with my sister and brother both in higher education, the burden of another one in college did not go well with my father. So, having a natural interest in nursing since admiring them as a young patient, I was encouraged to take that direction. I worked for years in nursing, especially after I was married and bringing up my children. However, as I got older, I missed that creative side of my life and decided, with the encouraging supportive of my teenage children, to divide up our large three car garage and build myself a studio that looked over the garden. From that time on I developed my work interests towards Fine Art Illustration, mainly in watercolour painting. Over the years I have been fortunate enough to get work regularly published and I also spent some years teaching.
At this point, I need to briefly step back to the early 1970s when my children were still under ten years old and I was pregnant with my fourth baby. My husband and I had always talked of having a large family, but it was at that point, my marriage, suddenly started to fall apart. I was a busy working mum doing night duty in a Cardiff hospital, when my husband's secret struggle with alcohol came clearly to light. That may sound rather naive to say, but back then, I had no real understanding on the subject of alcoholism - especially as my husband had never been an open drunkard! And so, back in those early days I found myself facing a serious situation and some hard choices - the forced sale of our home, separation and the destruction of our family life.
I make no charge for the downloading of "The Pathway To Freedom" as I feel it should be freely available to anyone who seeks truthful answers on the matter of abortion.
Thank you for taking the time to read this Bio, may it encourage you to download "The Pathway To Freedom." May it help you to make right choices if it is your baby's life in question. Or maybe, my testimony may help bring you to a place of personal healing and freedom from distress, should you have gone through with an abortion...
Linda M Ashdown