South Africa to UK to New Zealand


While Andrew was in Knysna, Phillip, Warwick and I drove to the Brede river mouth, where I left the other two and continued up the coast to see Andrew. Then together we drove to Oyster Bay to visit my father, Alice and the family.  As this was over Christmas, we attended the Christmas day service, given in Afrikaans, in the local church or hall. Although I had never managed to learn this language, I was able to follow the familiar Christmas story but, from my previous experience where I expected to hear a deep voiced, “Fear not”, instead, to my surprise I heard a rather high-pitched, “moenie skriek nie!” As this rather amused me because of childish associations of being ‘skrieked’ by ghost stories, on our return home, I recounted this event to our lady bookkeeper, Mrs. Peggy Truter, who repeated it to her husband. Apparently Cyril Truter hated pyjamas and always slept in a long cotton nightgown. Well, the next day when the milk delivery man placed the bottles at the front door, out stepped Cyril in his nightgown, shouting “moenie skriek nie!”. The man’s dusky skin turned a paler shade of white and he ran for his life.
 
After nearly a year working in Knysna and he returned to the Cape, and was employed by the Central News Agency there during 1971 and 1972. Then he joined a friend and they set up a small Screen Printing business called ‘Pinxit’. He seemed to enjoy this but it was not very profitable and he had to take another job, this time joining Caltex Oil (South Africa) Ltd. in February 1974, in the accounting department; he progressed to the post of Senior Accountant and then to Senior Internal Auditor. It was during the time that he was employed by Caltex that he met and married his first wife, Christine Anne Barber on 3rd September 1977 in Cape Town. She was born on 3rd April 1956 in Timperley, Chester, U.K. and had come out to South Africa with her parents some time before this. She was the daughter of Kenneth Harris Barber, born 23rd June 1926 in Stockport (and he was the son of Harris Barber and Sarah Barber nee Goodier). Her mother was Kathleen Barber nee Lester, born 17th October 1922, also in Stockport, (and she was the daughter of Thomas Aloysius Lester and Mary Isobel Lester nee Sutton.) There were three children of this marriage as Christine had a brother and a sister. The marriage of Christine and Andrew took place at Christ Church, in Constantia, officiated by Rev. Hodgson, and they set up home in an apartment near the railway line in Plumstead, before buying and moving to a house in Fishhoek. It was while they were there that their first child, Kenneth Howard May was born on 30th April, 1980.

Andrew left Caltex to join the O.K.Bazaars Ltd., in June 1980 and worked there until March 1981, also in the accounting department as an internal auditor and systems specialist. His primary responsibilities were to conduct all routine audits of the company’s supermarkets in the Western Cape region. These audit reports were then submitted to Head Office after being discussed with the Store Manager. Special projects included reporting to Head Office on the success of newly implemented accounting systems, flowcharting previously unaudited areas and designing his own audit programmes. During this year Andrew studied for a qualification from the Institute of Internal Auditors, New York. Andrew was a keen crayfish diver spending much recreational time doing this and fishing or spear fishing; incidentally discovering a 16th Century wreck of a French wooden sailing vessel ‘La Allouette’ and recovering three bronze cannons and various interesting artefacts.
 
Christine’s parents and sister, Patricia, returned to England while she and Andrew were still living in the apartment but in about 1981 Andrew and Christine decided to follow them, so they all settled in the small English village of Old Dalby, near Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire. The young couple lived at 20, Croft Gardens next to Christine’s Uncle Cyril and this adjacent house was taken over by ‘Trish when their uncle died. It was a difficult period in which to obtain employment in England and Andrew resorted to working in a pub among other things. The government under Mrs. Thatcher introduced certain schemes to assist the unemployed and Andrew was able to take advantage of this to obtain training in the use of computers and later at the ICL Training Centre, Beaumont, Windsor . He then joined the company, Thorn Lighting in Leicester and worked for them for some years. He managed a team of five in the development and maintenance of the Company’s Financial Systems.

A second son, Richard Warwick May, was born on 1st May 1984 at Melton Mowbray and sixteen months later a daughter, Alexandra Louise May was born on 23rd September 1985.
 
We were in U.K. at the time of Alexandra’s birth and visited to see the baby and the infant, Richard (also, of course the rest of the family) while we had the opportunity. Sadly, that was the only time that we met up with these two grandchildren and have had, needs must, to maintain contact only by post and, latterly, through e-mail.
 
In 1986 Andrew, Christine and the three children emigrated, leaving England for New Zealand and bought themselves a house in Auckland. In the absence of any family support network, Christine did not settle well in New Zealand and returned to her family in U.K. taking the children with her and she and Andrew were divorced on December 31st, 1991.
 
Andrew with his four children in 2000
 
Andrew met his second wife, Belinda May nee Foreman and they were married on 6th March 1992 in Auckland.   She was the daughter of Peter and Janet Foreman of Castor Bay, Auckland and has one sister, Sally now of Buckhurst Hill, Essex, U.K. In New Zealand Andrew worked as a senior executive for The Farmers Trading Company and for National Australia Bank in their computer department, and then took a two year contract in Hong Kong (1990 to 1991) working for Hong Kong Telecom’s software arm, Computasia, on international telephone traffic systems. Following their return to New Zealand, Computasia asked Andrew to be part of the team, which launched Optus in Australia, So he lived and worked in Sydney for six months. Andrew was responsible for installing the first of their core computer systems and, incidentally, worked with the daughter of his Uncle John, Terry Freemantle. Belinda was pregnant with Virginia at this time and they returned to live on the Tapora farm (which they had purchased earlier and which lies about 60 K north of Auckland, and not too far from Wellsford) just in time for the birth of Virginia Ruth May (subsequently Virginia Ruth Janet May) on 9th January 1993 in Auckland’s North Shore hospital. Andrew spent the best part of the 90’s onwards on the farm in semi-retirement; fishing and playing golf at the local club where he was treasurer from 1993 – 2000 and again from 2002 onwards, being also on the Committee continuously. On the farm he grazed cows, fattening them from calves to market size, moving them from one paddock to another; there was timber to fell and cut up for firewood, fences needed maintaining and there were the other usual farming tasks. Together with Belinda’s mother, they tried to grow and market orchids, which required the building of a large orchid house, but found the transporting of the blooms undermined this enterprise.   Belinda studied to take her teaching degree and, during the time she was teaching at a school in Auckland, the family rented property in the suburbs while commuting to the farm for weekends. Later, Andrew also set up a small computing business providing internet applications.

The family travelled to England in 2000 and lived in London for nine months where Belinda was able to do some teaching at St. John’s in Buckhurst Hill. Andrew and Virginia made contact with the three offspring of his first marriage. Christine, in the meantime had also remarried, her husband being Anthony Stevens. Also Andrew renewed his friendship with his old diving buddy, Jim Tobin, now a Harley Street consultant in orthodontics. In December 2000 the family returned to New Zealand via Los Angeles (and Disneyland) to live on the Tapora farm.
 
Andrew says: I have lived and worked (that is established myself) in five different countries. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, they say, but I’ve found some grass that is good enough for me.