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The Last Foundling: A little boy left behind, The mother who wanted him back [Kindle Edition]

Tom H. Mackenzie
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £7.99
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Book Description

When she fell pregnant in London in 1938, Jean knew that she couldn't keep her baby. The unmarried daughter of an elder in the Church of Scotland, she would shame her family if she returned to the north in such a condition. Scared and alone in a city on the brink of war, she begged the Foundling Hospital to give her baby the start in life that she could not.

The institution, which had been providing care for deserted infants since the eighteenth century, allowed Jean to nurse her son for nine weeks, leaving her heartbroken when the time came to let him go.

But little Tom knew nothing of her love as he grew up in the Foundling Hospital - which, during years of the Second World War, was more like a prison than a children's home. Locked in and subject to public canings and the sadistic whims of the older boys, there was no one to give him a hug, no one to wipe away his tears.

A true story of desertion and neglect, this is also a moving account of survival from one of the very last foundlings. It stands as a testament to the love that ultimately led a family back together.



Product Description

From the Back Cover

'I can still hear the sobs of those lost, lonely children rising from all around me'

When she fell pregnant in London in 1938, Jean knew that she couldn't keep her baby. Unmarried, scared and alone, she begged the Foundling Hospital to give her child the start in life that she could not. Still, she was heartbroken when the time came to let him go.

Her little boy, Tom, knew nothing of her love as he grew up. The Foundling Hospital, which had been providing care for deserted infants since the eighteenth century, imposed harsh discipline and an unvarying regime of exercise drills, chores, lessons and church. There was no one to give Tom a hug, no one to wipe away his tears. He was never told that his mother sent him presents for his birthday or that she desperately wanted him back.

Leaving the Hospital at fifteen, Tom was ill-equipped to cope with the wider world and suffered a series of misadventures until, as a young man, he tracked down the woman who had given him away . . . and found a home at last.

A deeply moving true story, The Last Foundling is a testament to the healing power of forgiveness and love.

About the Author

Tom H. Mackenzie was born in London in 1939 to an unmarried mother who intrusted him to the Foundling Hospital. He was one of the last children to be taken in by the Hospital after 200 years of institutional care. Following a spell in the army, he has worked in journalism and business and now writes a weekly column for the Plymouth Herald. Tom is happily married and lives in Plymouth, Devon.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 4957 KB
  • Print Length: 329 pages
  • Publisher: Pan (13 Mar. 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00HPYMV0Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #23,813 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

These days I go by my third name, Thomas Humphrey Mackenzie. Born in London, 1939, I grew up in the Foundling Hospital. My class was the hospital's very last after more than 200 years of institutionalised childcare.

After a spell in the Army, I became active in business and continue in a hands-on roll to this day. I enjoy foreign travel and penning poetry.

A sports enthusiast, I have enjoyed skiing, scuba diving, tennis, cycling and have owned my own hang-glider. I have also opened several health clubs, as well as one of the country's top ski centres which continues to be a regional attraction to this day.

But after over 50 years in business, at the age of 72 a new opportunity came my way: I was invited to become a weekly columnist for 'The Plymouth Herald' newspaper. My columns are published every Thursday in print and can also be found on my blog, lastfoundling.com.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding 12 Jun. 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As it was my choice for our monthly reading circle and in light of the fact that Tom MacKenzie lives and works locally I decided to chose this book. It was written in the first person, unemotional and with a matter-of-fact style that powerfully conveys the detachment and lack of belonging throughout Tom's childhood.He does not, throughout the book or in my conversations with him since informing him that I was choosing his book, apportion any blame or bitterness. In fact he gives a positive slant on how this upbringing and the love provided by the elderly foster parents later have shaped his life and made him the man he is today. I loved the book and the opportunity of talking to tom about it and all of of the eight reading circle members enjoyed it too, one stating "it's the best book we have read". He tells me that he has since been contacted by one of the last foundlings daughter whose Mother died giving birth to her. Please read this book and recommend it to your friends - Tom deserves a wonderful retirement.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Un-Put-Down-able'! 17 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A wonderful ‘un-put-down-able’ book and very well-written.

An emotional roller coaster but most certainly not a ‘misery memoir’ and it ends on a high note in the last chapter. Tom is an excellent wordsmith and the book is highly readable and very well-structured, so for example sections on his mother Jean are written in the first person - hence, Tom’s mother is telling her own story rather than Tom relating her story anecdotally himself. This is a story that needed to be told and to anyone who hasn’t lived through those times or who had a settled upbringing it will be a real revelation of the enormous societal changes that have taken place in the latter half of the last century. Tom shines a light on a world that anyone born in the last forty years or so won’t recognise. Even back in the 1940s it had become evident to the more enlightened ‘movers and shakers’ that the way that illegitimate children and their mothers was being treated was utterly disgraceful, which is why establishments such as the ‘Hospital’ in which Tom spent much of his childhood were already being phased out - hence, the title of the book, ‘The Last Foundling’. Try to imagine a childhood with no Christmas or birthday presents or cards, no letters, no books – indeed, no possessions of any kind to call your own, including the clothes you stand up in, then being turfed out at 15 to make your way in an adult world for which you were ill-prepared.

The book chimes well with my own experiences in that I too was born in 1939 and like Tom, was illegitimate. My mother was aged 36 and thought that she was in a relationship with a view to marriage, but in reality was the ‘bit on the side’ for a married man who washed his hands of her when she became pregnant.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For the misplaced children everywhere. 13 Jun. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Heard a radio interview on the Beeb and was curious. It turned at this guy can write really well. This compelling story held me right up to the last page. I even had a little weep along the way. Not like me at all. It is an amazing story and I highly recommend it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sad story 11 May 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Story about child sent to Foundling hospital in Berkhamsted, which is now Ashlyns School. Interesting but sad story - worth reading
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forgotton Children 7 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A profoundly moving story. Cruel by todays standards certainly but normal in those times. No different to boardind school at 4!!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
A wonderful book, very well written not a dull moment. What surprised me was it could happen to a seemingly decent, educated woman like Tom's mother. Heart breaking for her and Tom. Also whilst there is so much exposure about institutional abuse from the people in power these days, I was amazed to find that the worst abuses seemed to have come from Tom's fellow foundlings , the older boys. Indeed though the regime was harsh, it was borne out of good intentions. It was also heart warming to read about the love most of those foster parents gave against the cruel prejudice that was around at the time. All and all I thoroughly enjoy reading it. So glad that Tom has found the family which he had longed for. I'd certainly recommend this book to anyone I know.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Last Foundling 21 April 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
I loved this book as I live in Saffron Walden and knew Alpher Place I also visited the school in Berkhamsted I knew a lot of the foundling children as my grandmother bought a lot of these children up and even adopted them in fact two of them are like sisters to me
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An important book from a historical perspective but also a wonderfully heartwarming story that I could not put down. It brought tears to my eyes many times, sometimes because of the hardship inflicted on such vulnerable children and at other times because of the joy Tom eventually found in getting to know and being adopted by his birth family. It is also a wonderful example of the ability of a 'damaged' child to be able to rise above his upbringing and make a success of life.

I bought this book because I was a baby, born into a loving family in Berkamsted, during the time that Tom was suffering in the Foundling Hospital and I subsequently went to Ashlyns School (which the hospital became).

Several of the hospital staff remained when it became a school and were able to instill a sense of menace and fear into pupils even though no longer allowed to swish the cane, so I can only imagine the fear level when the use of such a sadistic weapon was permitted.

The building that was our school was magnificent and, reading the book, there were certain parallels that could be drawn to some of the rituals that carried through from one institution to the next!!

I was lucky enough, a few years ago, to attend a talk in the school chapel, given by one of the foundlings, - it may even have been Tom, and then we were taken on a tour of the school so we could understand it from the perspective of a foundling. It certainly changed my views on the building and added a great dimension to my experience of Tom's book.

This is certainly a wonderful read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars easy to
very interesting book, easy to read
Published 16 days ago by sandra zachary
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
I found this hard to put down. Well written and brought a tear to my eye. It's puts realisation of how tough it was to grow up in these circumstances and how lucky that people like... Read more
Published 1 month ago by NICHOLAS WATTS
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Great book, interesting story, great from page 1 to the end.
Published 1 month ago by Teragram
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent couldn't put it down
Excellent couldn't put it down x
Published 2 months ago by debbie watson
5.0 out of 5 stars needless to say I left his cobblers shop with a book he'd signed with...
I met Tom quite by chance recently, I stumbled into his shop seeking his opinion about some Christmas lights. Read more
Published 2 months ago by NatalieF
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Heart Wrenching Autobiography
I wanted to reach through time and give the little boy Tom a huge hug. The story of his early years and how he has forged,what appears to be, a good life is truly inspirational. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Carolyn palmer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great story hard to believe could happen
Published 3 months ago by Rita C Heal
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching
An end that brought tears to my eyes. To think of all those children born illegitimate in an age that left them bereft of family we. An only be glad this no longer happens
Published 3 months ago by angela harrity
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Bought as a present.
Published 4 months ago by rjp
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read. Well written.
Really felt I was on this life journey along with Tom. I hope he lives a long and healthy lifestyle To continue getting all he can from it.
Published 4 months ago by MnM
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