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16 October 2014

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Kathleen McCann: Born in the Wild

Born in the Wild

By Kathleen McCann
September 2004,
A digital story from Who Do You Think You Are?

"My father, Leonard Holroyd, loved adventure.

In 1947 he took his young wife and two-year-old son to Northern Rhodesia where he and my mother, both doctors, set about serving the local people through the Colonial Health Service.

Born in Lusaka in 1948, I grew up in a curious environment of a very English life-style, but with the bush everywhere around us.

School education was first-class and my brother and I went to schools in Northern Rhodesia and South Africa. Because our parents were moved quite often, they felt that boarding schools would give us stability.

We travelled to school by train, with lots of other children making the 2000 mile journey. It was tremendous fun for us kids as we ate crisps and junk food from our tuck boxes, but my brother and I solemnly went every day to the dining car for one sensible meal. We travelled through the vast expanses of bush, but the most thrilling moment was crossing Victoria Falls, and then the Rain Forest and the rich scent of home.

In the holidays my father's adventurous spirit took us in search of game in the Luangwa Valley. Life is never the same after you have been chased by an elephant, while the car's rear wheels are stuck in a rut in the road! ...or felt the scorching heat at Kariba Dam and seen the trees standing above the water!

We don't choose our parents or where we are born, but for me the quirks of family history have made me the person I am. Growing up in Africa has made me loyal to Britain, while at the same time a citizen of the world. It also gave me the most amazing childhood!"

Please tell us a little about yourself.
My parents were Leonard and Janet Holroyd. I live in Milton Keynes with my husband and mother. I am a secretary by profession.

What's your story about?
My childhood growing up in central Africa 1948 - 1965. Starting with my father's reason for going there in 1947.

Why did you choose to tell this particular story?
My father was an amateur photographer and he has left a considerable legacy of slides of central Africa taken in the 1950s and up to 1965. I wanted to try and give life to my father's legacy.

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