Keith was just eight or nine years old when he was sent away from home to convalesce with a family in Eastbourne. Now he’s asking for help finding them to repay a particular person’s kindness.
Now 74, Keith Auvache recalled how, as a frail and chronically ill young boy, doctors decided he must leave his family in London to recuperate in cleaner coastal air.
Subjected to various convalescent homes and institutional placements, he at one point had the good fortune to meet a young woman he most accurately recalls as Christine, who treated the homesick child with true compassion.
Keith said: “When you’re in a big home and they have so many young boys to look after, they don’t have time to give compassion and put a hand on the shoulder and give you a hug and a cuddle and read to you like Christine.
“She was caring in every way and when she saw me looking down – if you’ve ever been lonely and away from home at night, if you’re eight or nine and not going to sleep you’re crying – I don’t know how many times it was, she would regularly read to me and it made such a difference to my life.”
He said although the kindness may have seemed ordinary, the care Christine showed him made a huge impression and, he believes, helped him on the road to recovery and a better life.
Given the war and his health issues, Keith’s schooling was very disrupted and he left school at 14 before getting a job at the Daily Sketch, the forerunner to the Sun.
“I started to go out, started to get well,” he said. “I think it was my mental path set by Christine.”
He went on to work as a medic for most of his life, married and lost his wife of 44 years nine years ago, and wrote a book and appeared on TV for saving people’s lives but he never forgot that kindness.
Now he is losing his sight and wants to say thank you if possible while he still can.
“I’d sent her a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a card or even come down to a hotel and meet,” he said.
He said ‘Christine’ lived with her parents in 1952 to 1954, when he came to stay in Eastbourne, and was possibly around 16 to 24 at the time and may have been a student.
He recalled that she was a ‘marvellous sketcher’ and had some really large impressive drawings of high buildings and castles displayed in a room.
If you know someone who may be Christine or know what happened to her, you can contact Keith on 01507 443694.