The Long Way Home by Jo Bailey with Ronnie Sabin

One man, three countries and the organisation that saved his life. A fresh, unique perspective on the current Child Migrant Scheme debate.

In 1950, eleven-year-old Ronnie Sabin and his brothers Eddie and Joey were living a dismal life in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England. They had spent most of their early years in the notorious Rochester Dwellings, one of the worst post-war slums in the city. The boys were always hungry and never warm. They had to scavenge, beg and steal to survive.
When their destructive and dishonest behaviour continued to escalate, the authorities rounded them up and their mother agreed that they should be sent to Australia as child migrants under the care of the Fairbridge Organisation.
Ronnie spent six years at Fairbridge Farm School Molong, under the care of its commanding principal Mr Woods and his gentle wife, Ruth. When he left Fairbridge, the principal told Ronnie that bringing him up had been like ‘trying to tame a wild horse’. But in the end, they not only tamed him, they helped him to become a successful family man and businessman.

Often hilarious, sometimes heart-wrenching, The Long Way Home adds a positive perspective to the current Child Migrant Scheme debate. It pays tribute to Fairbridge and details Ronnie’s delight at finally being reunited with his family in England after fifty-five years.

  • Classification: Universal
  • Work is: Extract only on Authonomy
  • First submitted Feb. 24, 2010
  • Last updated Feb. 24, 2010
The Long Way Home
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  • Seringapatam's avatar
    Seringapatam wrote 2 years ago
    Jo, Ronnie, Very moving and so well told. You have a lovely story telling voice here and I feel that you are the only person that could tell this story. I loved reading it and felt so close to it and at time really deep in it. It has a really nice flow to it that suits the characters in it and a pace to match. This will do well if you push it on this site. You just need ...
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  • Carborundum's avatar
    Carborundum wrote 2 years, 6 months ago

    Howay the lads!

  • mala iyer's avatar
    mala iyer wrote 4 years, 3 months ago

    i found this so moving and powerful. thank you for sharing it !

  • name falied moderation's avatar
    name falied moderation wrote 4 years, 6 months ago
    Dear Jo and Ronnie well i just loved this book. my favorite genre. you have written in a very animated way,and it gives me the perfect window to share your journey as a spectator. I feel as if you are all an extended family of mine. it has a place in my heart now this book and i thank you for that. VERY well crafted for sure....THE VERY BEST OF LUCK with your book and i really hope you find ...
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  • Famlavan's avatar
    Famlavan wrote 4 years, 11 months ago


    The Long Way Home

    There is always something special about being let into other’s lives. I think the very powerful imagery and extremely good observational story it very well told. Thank you for giving me a special moment. – Good luck

  • SusieGulick's avatar
    SusieGulick wrote 4 years, 11 months ago
    Dear Jo & Ronnie, Non-fiction & biography is where it's at! :) I love that you have told your story. Thanks for your "author's notes" & "prologue" to brief be on it. Wonderful read because you create interest by having short paragraphs, which makes me want to keep reading to find out what's going to happen next. I'm BACKING/COMMENTING on your book to help advance it. :) PLEASE take a moment to BACK/COMMENT on my TWO Books, ... "He Loves ...
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  • lookinup's avatar
    lookinup wrote 4 years, 11 months ago

    What a story behind a story. The desire not to refute, but to clarify, what happened over the years gives it more merit I think. The writing isn't just factual; it's being there.

    Catherine (The Golden Thread)

  • Retired user
    Sheila Belshaw [Retired] wrote 4 years, 11 months ago
    THE LONG WAY HOME: Jo Bailey and Ronnie Sabin, This is a very moving memoir and I congratulate you both on its publication. I hope the launch went well. Apart from the introduction, it reads like a novel - and what do they say? - The truth is stranger than fiction. You convey the emotional impact of the entire experience without making it sentimental. It is an immensely sad story, but at the same time it is uplifting. I have ...
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  • Retired user
    lizjrnm [Retired] wrote 4 years, 11 months ago

    I don't read a lot of non-fiction but thi sis so wellwritten that it reads like fiction - had to keep reminding myself that it is true! It is evident within the first few chapters that you have spent time, energy, passion an d a piece of yourself in writing this! BACKED with pleasure!

    Liz
    The Cheech Room

  • Retired user
    Mr. Nom de Plume [Retired] wrote 4 years, 11 months ago
    Constructive remarks are of great value to all authors. The "Author's Note," detracts somewhat by being introduced too early, explaining the background for writing the book. Moving the "Note" to the end of the work might be very effective. Why? Well, a reader might try to connect the author directly with the first person account being presented in a very well written work, a work that converys information generally unknown to American readers. American readers need this knowledge because children ...
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  • Retired user
    Mr. Nom de Plume [Retired] wrote 4 years, 11 months ago
    Constructive remarks are of great value to all authors. The "Author's Note," detracts somewhat by being introduced too early, explaining the background for writing the book. Moving the "Note" to the end of the work might be very effective. Why? Well, a reader might try to connect the author directly with the first person account being presented in a very well written work, a work that converys information generally unknown to American readers. American readers need this knowledge because children ...
    Read more
  • AlanMarling's avatar
    AlanMarling wrote 4 years, 11 months ago
    Dear Jo Bailey, Thank you for sharing Ronnie’s story with us. I enjoyed your beginning, talking about a middle-aged gentleman returning to England to *meet* his parents. You present a powerful image of him watching the coastline fading from sight and vowing to return, and here he is, a mere half-century later. I have an immense amount of sympathy for him on his tortuous journey through the airport security. Minor complications build tension, such as the lightning storm and the ...
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  • Telegraph's avatar
    Telegraph wrote 4 years, 12 months ago

    What a unique story. There a realism that mesmerizes the reader to keep turning pages. C W Shelved.

  • Retired user
    lynn clayton [Retired] wrote 4 years, 12 months ago

    There was a report about this on the news the other night, so you can be sure people will be interested in your story. Unlike a journalist, though, you give us your personal history in a mesmerising and moving way. Sure this will be a success. Backed. Lynn

  • Retired user
    missyfleming_22 [Retired] wrote 4 years, 12 months ago

    What an outstanding story. I am not familiar with this history but I feel like I learned alot just in the little that I did read. You have done a wonderful job and I don't have anything to say that isn't positive! Thank you for giving me something inspiring to read.

    Missy
    Mark of Eternity

  • Retired user
    Linda Lou [Retired] wrote 5 years ago

    Hullo Jo. very interesting topic and storyline. We do not have many places like the 'Farm school' in the USA. Please consider my book

    Linda Lou Long
    Southern dis-Comfort
    http://www.authonomy.com/ViewBook.aspx?bookid=11421

  • Barry Wenlock's avatar
    Barry Wenlock wrote 5 years ago

    What an incredible story! Backed with pleasure. I too felt so sorry for your mother. glad it all worked out. Many laughs and tears. HC eat your heart out! Best wishes, Barry (Little Krisna and the Bihar Boys)

  • Michael Croucher's avatar
    Michael Croucher wrote 5 years ago

    A wonderful story, revealing and engaging, written with authority and that all important emotion that connects the dots for the reader and compells them to read on. Shelved
    Michael Croucher (Bravo's Veil)

  • Retired user
    wordreiver wrote 5 years ago

    I would love to read the rest of this book. The first 6 chapters are so well written I was totally captivated. I am from Newcastle and I grew up is Australia and New Zealand - Lived in Christchurch for a while too. I have a very interesting life story, but just can't write about myself. I admire anyone with the skill to write biography. It's an art in itself. Good luck with this. Backed. GJ

  • Retired user
    Beval [Retired] wrote 5 years ago

    It was very good to hear the other side of the story.
    I enjoyed this very much, it was well told. I have to say my heart went out to their poor mother, to have her children removed like that must have been a terrible thing. Her boys might not have suffered much as a result, but I suspect she did, every day.
    Backed.