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Shipped off to Australia aged eight, Bill Stokes was whipped and beaten but has now been reunited with his family

By West Briton  |  Posted: April 04, 2013

  • Bill Stokes at the Bay Tree Guest House at Ferris Town, Truro. Ref:TRJJ20130325A-002_C

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BILL Stokes was taken from his mother when he was just six years old and she was deemed unfit to look after him.

At the age of 8 he was shipped off to Australia – alone and with little understanding of what had happened.

It was an unforgiving childhood of back-breaking work and physical abuse at the Fairbridge Farm school at Pinjarra.

But the overwhelming desire to see his family again brought him back to Cornwall, aged 71, for an incredible reunion with relatives from Redruth, Camborne and farther afield.

He said: "It was cruel to send a child of 8 out there without anybody.

"You had to get up at 4.30am to go and milk cows. I didn't have shoes until I found an old pair of pumps."

Mr Stokes has a 67-year-old sister that he had seen only once before, a half-sister and six half-brothers.

Among those at the reunion were two of Mr Stokes' half-brothers, Danny Kellow, 55, from Redruth and Mark Kellow, 54, from Camborne.

Mr Stokes told the assembled family of the hardships he endured but also of his success and opportunities he believes he would not have had in the UK.

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