skip to main content
COVID-19 Update from Father Hudsons Care

"It felt like coming home."

Dame Elizabeth Anionwu

“It’s like a jigsaw puzzle where all the pieces have been put together.”

Dame Elizabeth Anionwu described what tracing her heritage meant to her as a person in a recent October talk with Father Hudson’s staff and supporters in celebration of Black History Month.

A nurse, health activist and Emeritus Professor of Nursing, Dame Elizabeth revolutionised the treatment of sickle cell disease and fought institutionalised racism and inequality in nursing. She received a CBE in 2001 and was invested as a Dame in 2017.

She also spent the first nine years of her life under the care of Father Hudson’s. Born to a Irish Descent Catholic mother and Nigerian father, she lived first in a mother and baby home followed by a convent home until returning to her maternal family.

When writing her memoirs, she realised she had very few photos of herself as a child and only one before the age of 11. This led her to contact Father Hudson’s Origins service to see if they had any photos from her childhood.

She was put in touch with Origins’ social worker, Siobhan, for support. Although the service didn’t have any photos, Siobhan was able to offer Dame Elizabeth a wealth other information from her records. In the interview, she spoke of the emotion of seeing letters from before she was born, between her grandparents and Canon Flint, who managed the homes at the time. From these letters she learned things about her past, and about her mother, that she hadn’t known before. But what she described as most amazing was seeing a crisp copy of her birth certificate.

She said that returning to Coleshill and seeing her records made her feel like she “had come home.”

If you would like to know more about Dame Elizabeth Anionwu then her memoirs Dreams from my Mother are currently available in paperback, Kindle and audiobook at all major book retailers.

The Origins service provides post-adoption and care support to those affected by a childhood separation from their family of Origin. It helps people learn about their past and understand their personal history. Due to the sensitive nature of this work, the Origins service is one of the unsung heroes of Father Hudson’s Care, so we are grateful to Dame Elizabeth for sharing her story with us.

Back to news