PUBLICATION DATE: 26-01-2012
In post war Britain thousands of children were shipped abroad for a variety of motives. Francis Webster was one of these children. Sent to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) by the Kingsley Fairbridge Trust, his story is one of sadness but also of achievement and happiness.The scandals of Britain’s Child Migration Policy have hit the headlines over the years but Francis' story gives us another insight into this often tragic account.
Footsteps of a child migrant is the story of an extraordinary and varied life. As a child Francis Webster was sent to Rhodesia as a child migrant in 1951to relieve pressure on his mother who, single handed, was trying to raise a family in war-torn Scotland.From a prep school at Fairbridge Memorial College he completed secondary education at Milton High School in Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia. As a school-leaver tertiary education was not an option so he enrolled in the Civil Service Ministry of Internal Affairs where, as a District Officer he sought to allow the rural indigenous people to continue their customary life while helping them adapt to the law and administration structure of a modern developing economy.After completing military service he and his wife Rozanne returned to the UK and Francis was employed by the Longman Publishing Group as a District Officer.Returning to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), this time as a volunteer migrant, Francis decided to settle in the newly developing country and he was employed by Rio Tinto, an international mining company as a Training Manager. In this capacity he led Rio Tinto’s initiative to develop indigenous black skills to take over the company operations as white skilled employees left the country in search of greener pastures. He went on to manage the Company’s health, safety and environmental initiatives and, as a swan song, managed the community relations initiative which re-settled 168 families in alternative land to make way for the new Murowa Diamond Mine.He retired in 2002 on a modest pension and now continues his interest in Natural History in between writing his biography and carrying out occasional consultancy tasks with his old employer .