A brother and sister who left Dervock in 1961 for a new life in Australia are back home.
Robert Dickie was just 15 when he and his sister, Margaret, took advantage of a Government assisted scheme to set up home on the other side of the world in 1961.
Margaret came back with her husband, Michael Peters, four years ago to renew acquaintances with family and friends, but Robert;s return was a half a century and two weeks before he set foot again on his native soil.
Robert and his wife, Jan, are currently enjoying the hospitality offered by relations as well as reminicising about old times.
However, while Robert has little difficulty recalling the roads and landmarks around the extended Dervock area, he has less recollection about some of his old school and work pals.
However, he has vivid memories of stoking a boiler at Dervock Presbyterian Church and one of his first visits was back to the Church to relive those youthful experiences.
He reckons things haven’t changed a great deal aside from the length of time that it took him getting from Ballymoney to Dervock - a few minutes by car as opposed to a time-consuming walk in days gone by!
Robert, a truck driver, revealed he was an apprentice butcher for Willie Twaddle in Ballymoney - an apprenticeship that didn’t long as he ventured off to his new life at the age of 15. Margaret was one year older.
Last Wednesday night, both families enjoyed a pleasant evening in the company of their cousins, the McAleese family on the Cozies Road, near Bushmills where they told the Times about their memories of home.
A packed house saw family members relax in pleasant surroundings giving them the opportunity to catch up with the past.
Now living in New South Wales - Margaret in Tamworth and Robert in Newbridge - Margaret has five children, ten grandchildren and two great grandchildren while Robert has three grown up kids and eight grandchildren.
Margaret, a former worker in the Gallaher’s cigarette factory in Ballymena, has been here for some weeks, but is due to leave this Tuesday. She has had a thoroughly enjoyable time meeting up with old girl friends including Pearl Hutchinson and Mary McLean (now Hargy)
Robert, who travelled separately from his sister from Australia, will tour Scotland before heading back home.
He too has enjoyed the warm hospitality particular from the McAleese family whose father was a brother of Robert and Margaret’s mother.