Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Background - Part 3: Finding Mum

The following is a brief extract of the transcript of the telephone call with my brother on 2 June 2009

Me:           Mum told me that she wanted to come back to England.  And before she went to Australia, or went to New Zealand, she actually told Dave that she wanted to be back for her birthday – and she had every intention of being back for her birthday
Clem:       Yeah, maybe, but she is currently very happy where she is ..... and we’ve got accommodation here for her.  She’s being looked after well.  Marly’s looking after her well....
Me:           Do you know the other thing she insisted on? She didn’t want to live with you and Marly, and Jean Gurr promised us that she would never be made to do anything that she didn’t want to do
Clem:        Well, I spoke to her the other day..... and she’s perfectly happy where she is. She’s very thankful for the provision that’s been made
Me:           You spoke to her the other day....?  What do you mean, you spoke to her the other day?”
Clem:        I asked her, my mother, I speak to my mother nearly every day, but the point is, I spoke to her about this issue the other day....
Me:           So where is she then?
Clem:        Wait a minute, let me explain something.  She lives with us, OK?  We’ve got a garage conversion, and she’s got accommodation in there and she’s very comfortable and happy with it and she keeps remarking on how she is, in the garage.  She can hardly believe it was a garage, it was put together very quickly and very properly, it wasn’t shabby, it’s just like a little flat for her and she’s got a wet room, shower-room, bathroom, toilet, and everything....
Me:           But you don’t see her on a daily basis then?
Clem:        Well I go to work early and I come home early (indignantly) But I do USUALLY see her every day, yes, I’ll pop in and see her
Me:           Have you any idea how ridiculous this sounds..........?
Clem:        What do you mean?
Me:           It just sounds ridiculous to me…. You saying, “I spoke to her the other day”, as if you don’t have too much to do with her anymore
Clem:        I’m sorry if you think that way, but please don’t think like that.  It’s not that I don’t speak to my mother or speak to her hardly ever, I’m saying that I asked her this question the other day, and she told me about how happy she was to be where she is and she’s cared for very well.  She said that herself, spontaneously, several times.  That’s what I’m talking about
Me:           Well, I’m telling you that when I spoke to her in New Zealand, she told me every single time that she wanted to come back to England, so for you to say that ..... then ...... she must have been lying to me then?
Clem:        I can’t tell you about that.  I’m just telling you the current situation is she’s very happy.  And she can tell you herself
Me:           I would like to speak to her
Clem:        Yes I know you would, but she’s not available at the moment, I can arrange for a time when you can. I can’t stay on the phone VERY long because I’ve got to be going to work shortly, so .... it’s ten to six now
Me:           I still want to know why I wasn’t told.  Why I wasn’t given a chance to say goodbye. So what gives you then the right to take her to the other side of the world, without even saying goodbye to her daughter?  You’re depriving me of my mother and you’re depriving my mother of me.  Regardless of what you think Clem, I had a relationship with Mum, AND Dad
Clem:        Yes, but, you took yourself away from the relationship, Marion
Me:           No, I didn’t take myself away from the relationship.  I was IN a relationship.  Dad used to come round here
Clem:        Yes I realise that, but you took yourself away, you walked away from the fellowship, and stayed there
Me:           I walked away from the brethren Clem, because I didn’t want to live under such unrealistic constraints.  I never left a relationship with my parents.  And my parents, BOTH, quite happily carried on a relationship with me in secret.  If my mum didn’t want to speak to me, she would have told me that herself
Clem:        Well, I, I’m just mentioning the facts as, as they stand at this point.  That’s all

As I said before, he told me he didn’t have to answer my questions and put the phone down on me.

I have included this extract for readers to see how bizarre it was. Why had he said Mum was "unavailable"?  Why didn't he just say that she was asleep, after all, it was, as he said, "ten to six" in the morning.  I was very worried and didn’t know if Mum was alive or dead.

The next day I rang Irma in NZ.  She told me that she did not have a contact number for my brother.  She was very vague and said she didn’t want to get involved.  She said that information was being withheld from them because there was a fear they would pass information to me.  The previous day Marilyn, my brother's wife had called and told them not to pass any information to us.  I told Irma I was very worried and asked if Mum was OK, was she in hospital?  Irma stammered and stuttered and said that she really didn’t know what to say, and that she would desperately love to speak to Mum herself.  I asked again if Mum was in hospital and Irma said that she really didn’t know what the present situation was.

I feared the worst, and decided to ring hospitals north of Sydney, that was all the information I had.  I rang the General Hospital in a town called Gosford, about an hour and a half north of Sydney.  I was expecting it to be the first of many that I would ring.  I was absolutely astonished when I was told that Mum had been admitted a few weeks previously.  I was transferred to Mum’s bedside phone and I heard her voice.  She was clearly delighted to hear from me, but my brother happened to be there and took the phone from her.  He told me that he would not allow me to speak to Mum, and once more, he put the phone down on me.

It was all falling into place now, the strange things my brother said in our conversation – Mum wasn’t “available”, he’d spoken to her “the other day”.  Irma’s vagueness and discomfort when I questioned her if Mum was in hospital.  Why the secrecy?  What on earth did they think I could do in the knowledge the Mum was in hospital?  Kidnap her?  Then I realized, they didn’t want me to know that Mum was in hospital because a hospital is a public place and as such, if I could get to Australia,they could not stop me from seeing her.  That was the reason for the secrecy!

Over the next few days I had several conversations with medical staff at the hospital.  They knew a lot about the Exclusive Brethren, given the negative publicity they have in Australia.  They told me that Mum had been admitted following a series of falls in my brother’s home.  These had been “unwitnessed, unheard by family” (extracted from Mum’s medical notes).  They told me what a darling Mum was and how she would tell them stories about her life as a midwife in South Africa. 

Amongst other things, I was told by staff that Mum had a return ticket to the UK.  Notes were read to me from a recent family meeting, which confirmed that the Physiotherapist and the Occupational Therapist were both happy for Mum to be discharged with a care package, but that Clem and Marilyn were adamant that they did not want Mum to return to their home.  They wanted her to get “better” before they would consider this. This despite the fact she had been declared medically fit.  Staff tried to explain to them that, even if Mum spent more time in a sub-acute facility, it didn’t mean that she was going to get any “better”, as such, because she was already medically fit.  Obviously, her Dementia could not get better.  My brother and his wife enquired about the possibility of a residential facility but it was explained to them that as Mum was on a holiday visa, she was probably not eligible.  This is an interesting point as my brother insists that it was Mum’s choice to emigrate to Australia.  I also have copies of my mother’s medical notes, which confirm that Marilyn told hospital staff that Mum was holidaying with them.  Obviously these lies were because they were hoping to take Mum into Australia via the back door, and as they were new to Australia themselves they wanted to protect their own immigration status.  It is amazing how these supposedly “Christian” people lie and deceive to suit themselves. 

One nurse told me that Marilyn had told the nurses that they had to shower Mum.  So the nurses obliged and once in the shower Mum apparently said, “I’m sick of this, she rules my life”.  How awful it must have been for my poor mum, in hospital, in a country where she knew next to no one, being controlled and dominated like that.

I asked a nurse if my brother took Mum out at all and spent time with her, and she said they didn’t.  That made me feel really sad.  Mum was such a gentle, selfless person.  She had spent her life caring for people.  From the age of 23 she had run her own private midwifery practice in South Africa. I can always remember her putting others first, and now, in the twilight of her life, she had been dragged to the other side of the world, away for all she knew, only to be left in a hospital, alone.

Following conversations as above with nurses, on 12 June 2009, the Dr called me.  He confirmed everything that the nurses had told me.  Mum had been medically fit for weeks but that my brother and his wife didn’t want her back home with them.  He said that his view was that Mum was able from a medical point of view, to travel to the UK, with support.  The Dr went on to say that Mum had been moved to a convalescing hospital, Woy Woy General, about an hour earlier and that he had been in touch with the Dr there.  He told me that he had spoken directly him and informed him of the EB issue and the fact that I would like my mother to return to the UK and he thought that was a good idea.

Shortly after my conversations with hospital staff, Neil Kennard, an Australian leader of the brethren, rang me twice.  He was clearly ringing to try to smooth things over and he talked about a lot of irrelevant issues.  He asked for my email address so his wife could send me pictures of Gosford! “Just so you know what the area is like”!  He said he could obtain a medical report for Mum and email it to me!  He said that the reason that Mum was now in Australia was because my niece, Leanne, married an Australian “and that’s what attracted Clem out here in the first place”.  I had to keep directing him back to the point, which was MUM.  He asked, of all things, for me to send him a picture of the family and me!  “Just so that we know you a little bit more”!  As if I was going to send a family photo to someone I didn’t know, who was hell bent on playing for time and perpetuating the lies.  He kept telling me that things are not the way they appear.  I reminded him that Clem took the phone from Mum and wouldn’t let me speak to her, then cut the phone off.  To me, it was perfectly clear, the way things were.  He said that had Clem panicked after cutting the phone off and wanted to get back in touch with me and had rung Neil about it.  I don’t know why he thought I would believe him.

As mentioned above, I already knew from the Dr I had spoken to that Mum had moved from Gosford Hospital to Woy Woy Hospital, around 11 km away.  I wanted to know if Neil would be honest with me, so I asked him if Mum was still in Gosford Hospital.  He told me that they had moved her to “a different part of the hospital”.  I queried his response, asking if she was definitely in the same hospital.   He answered that she was, that she had been moved from the main area, to a lower care area, but that it was definitely in the same hospital, just a different part.  So he lied.

I found the phone calls from Neil Kennard most unsettling.  However, they are also noteworthy.  Some readers will know that the brethren’s way of wriggling out of matters when they are under the spotlight for wrong-doing, is to lie, and say it is a personal or “family” matter, as opposed to a church matter, despite that fact that instruction to act in a particular way has come from the brethren leadership.  The brethren then distance themselves from the issue in order to try to appear blameless.  The brethren regularly take this stance, for example, in the dividing of a husband and wife.  The brethren have repeatedly claimed it is a “family matter”, in my situation (more on this later), but from the intervention of Neil Kennard, now and later, it is quite clear that is not the case. 

My best friend Helen and I went to visit Mum's next-door neighbour to see what we could glean about the situation.  Carol was a lovely, friendly woman whom I had met once before.  She told us that one or two days before Mum left for NZ, Mum had told her that she was going on a short holiday.  Mum asked Carol to look after her plants, which Carol willingly agreed to do.  It is clear that Mum had no idea of what lay ahead.  If she had made plans to emigrate she would definitely have told us and her neighbour.  Sending Mum to NZ was a smoke screen for the real plan - a conspiracy to sever all contact between my mother and me, my children and their grandmother and my husband and his mother-in-law.

We abandoned our booked family holiday to Portugal and within the space of about two weeks the four of us were on flights to Sydney, Australia.  I needed to see Mum and to establish exactly what the situation was.  

We arrived in Sydney on 23 June 2009 and were met by a good friend, Dave Tennent.  He kindly drove us to our hotel and gave us invaluable information about transport and other local information.  We freshened up and went for a walk to find some breakfast.  Then we made our way to the train station for the train to Woy Woy.  After the 25 hour flight, the train engines on the 90 minute train ride lulled us all and our heads were flinging this way and that as we fought slumber.  We very nearly missed our stop!  The fifteen minute walk to the hospital woke us up again.

Mum was absolutely overjoyed to see us, as were we to see her.  The love shone from her face.  It was an emotional reunion.

With Mum at last, as soon as we could get to her after arriving in Australia
Please note that all references to conversations throughout this blog are 100% factual and taken from audio recordings made at the time the conversations took place.

..........Next:  Australia 2009, Court Cases, Australia 2011


  1. Do you think Neil Kennard wanted a recent photo of you to distribute amongst the EB/PBCC and maybe even hospital staff - as an undesirable to look out for, in case you went there to 'kidnap' your mum back home?! I can't think of any other reason...

    1. Yes, Helen. That is definitely what I think. This whole thing was a conspiracy that was cooked up by the brethren. Once they knew that I had located Mum they obviously wanted to prevent me from seeing her. So many brethren were involved in this nasty affair and they all lied.

  2. Wow Marion. I feel so sad for you. Thanks for sharing your story and I hope that the EB read this and somewhere, someone realises that what they are doing is completely messed up, cruel and un-Christian!

  3. This is heartrending and beyond the pale. Not only "non-Christian" but disgusting to decent people of any religion, atheists included.

    Gordon Martin in Montréal

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  5. Marion, I stumbled on your blog after noticing the wikipeebia website, and yourself, on a documentary broadcast today in Victoria, Aust. I was introduced to you and your situation a few years ago by Deb G., and offered support. Thank you for sharing your experiences [well documented] with the world. The truth will eventually set them free! Kind Regards, Jimmar.

    1. Thank you for reading my blog, Jimmar, and for your comments. I will continue to strive for justice for those oppressed and trapped in such a cruel and human rights-violating cult. Best wishes, Marion