As a small child David Browne was evacuated to Seapatrick to escape the German air raids of World War Two and now, over 75 years on, he has returned for a poignant visit.
Two weeks ago The Leader featured David’s search for the grave of John Noddings, the man he stayed with during his time as an evacuee, and how, through that search, he made contact with John’s nephew - Jack Noddings.
Last week David came to Seapatrick to meet with Jack and share fond memories of his early years with the Nodding’s family.
David was just two years old when he was evacuated from 26 Hesketh Park, North Belfast, in 1940 with his older sister Eveline. He remembers it felt like a big adventure.
In 1942 he was placed with the Noddings family at Seapatrick Villas, where he recalls there was a big water pump in the garden.
“Daddy Noddings took me fishing every Saturday morning,” David said. “He made a fishing net out of a long stick and a piece of net curtain and we went down the field to the river. I fished away while Dad Noddings lay on the bank smoking his pipe.
“His wife Isabelle was very good to me.
“I remember the big pot on a hook over the fire and the water was used for bathing and all other domestic needs.
“Mummy Noddings put us to bed every night and made us say our prayers.”
David recalls John grew all sorts of vegetables.
“The one I remember most was the artichokes as he always tried to get me to eat them but I didn’t like them.
“I also remember him having a budgie that died and he buried it in the garden. I wasn’t happy about this and dug it up and washed it under the water pump,” he said.
Over the years David continued to stay in touch with the Noddings, paying them a visit from time to time. His last visit was in 1956.
On one of those visits David said John took him out to the shed and asked him to check if there were any eggs under the birds on the top loft.
“When I put my hand under them the birds weren’t amused as they were clocking on eggs. I can still hear Daddy Noddings cackling - he had a great sense of humour.”
Jack was able to take David to the general area John is buried in Seapatrick Graveyard, however due to works in the cemetery some years ago the plot numbers have been removed making it impossible to find the exact location.
David left flowers nearby, but is keen to contact anyone who may be able to help him find the grave’s precise site.
As a time-served carpenter David would like to make a cross to mark it - a tribute to the kind-hearted man he looked up to as a father figure.