Tony was brought up in a Children’s Home in the 1960s and when he left school found that life in the outside world was rather overwhelming and he was not equipped to deal with it. So in the late 1960’s he got involved in the drug scene and had a brief spell of homelessness. However, with the help of good friends and a strong Christian faith that was born in him during that period, he finally found his feet and now enjoys a very full and interesting life. He is a long-time member of his local Church. He is also the “Poet in Residence” on his local paper.

If you would like to see a fuller version of Tony’s story, then the text of an article about him in his local paper in 2016, appears below.

Flying under the Radar

A Story of hope and healing

By Tony Inwood.

I was born on a farm in the early 1950’s. The conditions were not easy as my parents rowed frequently, mainly about my father’s attitudes towards money. We were deprived somewhat unnecessarily of fairly basic items for living and in the end my mother decided she could stand it no longer and left the farm in 1959 taking me and my 2 older brothers with her. I was 6 years old at the time.

She found us all accommodation in a large run-down house nearby, where we stayed for one year. My mother then had the first of several nervous breakdowns, and had me and one of my brothers placed into care, the oldest brother, being then aged 16, got a job and lived in digs.

So, the two of us were placed into temporary foster care for four weeks, were sent to what was then our third junior school, until a place was found for us at a reception assessment centre. Seven months later we were then sent to The Caldecott Community (now Caldecott Foundation), where we at last found some stability, at least during the term time.

At that time, the Caldecott was based in an amazing stately home, designed by Robert Adam, called Mersham-le-Hatch. The standards of care here were extremely good in the context of its time and by and large I was happy here. However, there was never any physical affection given to us and apart from a little in my early years, this was true throughout the whole of my childhood. Also, there were problems about holidays because they only catered for children during term time. So my brother and I initially went back to the reception assessment centre for one school holiday, before long term foster parents were found for us.

To begin with and for several years afterwards, this foster home was a really good place to stay and both my brother and I were happy there. However, there was the inevitable question of seeing our parents. During term time at Caldecott, they would visit us for days out, which was fine. But day visits from the foster home after a while, caused a fair degree of tension for the foster parents for a variety of reasons. Also, as time went on, my mother had several spells in mental hospital, culminating in a course of ECT, which did at least seem to help her out of her depression.

My father also had his problems and after a number of years of living alone, attempted suicide. He, too, then had a spell in mental hospital. All of this began to take its toll on me emotionally. Then to add to this my foster parents, who had at one stage told me that I might live with them permanently, told me one day by letter that they were no longer able to keep me (with no real reason given).

This was when I was 14 and was really hurtful and made me very angry and also latterly very depressed. So once again holidays became a problem and I was then shunted from one place to another and in the long summer holidays went to several different locations. Sometimes with relations, sometimes in children’s homes and finally with the parents of a school friend.

Then, when I was nearly 16, my father died of a cerebral haemorrhage and I became almost permanently depressed. I lost all interest in school work, was devoid of any kind of ambition and really felt that life was utterly pointless.

I largely remained in this state for the rest of my time at Caldecott and began having bouts of drunkenness as a result. Finally, I left at the age of 16 without any plans for the future. Caldecott had at least found me a place in a hostel in London and I got a labourer’s job in a wine cellar, which only served to increase my drinking and I continued the slide into a very apathetic state. This was made all the worse when I then began to take an assortment of drugs on a regular basis, drifted from dead end job to dead end job and lived in increasingly unsavoury accommodation. All this was interspersed by short spells of homelessness.

It was during this time, when, in retrospect, I was in great danger of ending up as just one more case of death by overdose, that I had an experience of God in a way that I cannot easily explain. However, the result was that I just knew I had to pull myself out of this state of affairs and quickly, which I then did with the help of other people.

Fortunately for me, there was a man who had been on the staff at Caldecott for many years who had a flat in London and often had various old Caldecotts sharing it with him. I followed suit and shortly afterwards we moved into a house, which has proved to be a permanent home for me, and where we have remained for 44 years. Our friendship has grown very strong and mutually supportive over this time and has been a great blessing to us both.

This then proved to be a long, enjoyable and very stable period in my life. However despite having various jobs, including working happily for years as a self-employed gardener, I still lacked any real ambition.

So when I reached my late forties, I experienced a sort of a mid-life crisis. I knew that I still had unresolved hurt from my early years and really felt that I had not achieved anything significant at all up to that point.

As a result of the Christian faith, that I first encountered so many years before, I had been member of my local Church and did at least become involved to some extent with duties and responsibilities there, which proved to be a great step forward for me. However, this did not address the unresolved emotional deprivation I still felt to some degree, so I asked for some healing prayer in the Church.

Once again, in a way that I simply cannot adequately explain, I underwent a radical change in my perception of things as a result of this series of prayer sessions. And although they were very painful for me at the time they did produce the most amazing results.

Almost out of the blue I began to write poetry of all kinds and then produced five booklets of poems over the next few years. These little booklets were used in a fairly modest way to help raise funds for the Church and a local charity. I also became the “Poet in Residence” on my local paper.

I also began with the help of other Church members to put on concerts in our Church, and mount art exhibitions. I also wrote two short plays, which were staged in Church and started to take much more interest in other people and what was happening in the world generally. This was a huge surprise to me and a very significant blessing.

I now realise that this new growth and healing, will be ongoing for the rest of my life and hopefully I will become a more productive and whole person as the years go by. I hope to be around for another 25 years or more, God willing, and to contribute much more to this world than I have done to date.

So I now feel at the age of 64 that I am almost “coming of age” and have arrived at a place where I am still in the early stages of my career as a writer, which is such a happy prospect.

To celebrate this latest phase in my life I have brought out a new book of my poetry called “A Day at the Zoo”. It is now available on Amazon priced £6.96. It contains 80 poems of diverse verse and has a Foreword by Fergal Keane OBE, the BBC Special Correspondent. This book expresses in poetic form my faith, sense of humour and the need we all have for warmth and kindness in our relationships.

I include below a poem from it which I wrote during my prayer sessions and this symbolises the way that God can touch our lives in the most unlikely circumstances, by breaking through our defences, as indeed can the warmth and kindness of others.

Flying under the Radar.

You go to the very core of me,

where no-one else can go.

You slipped in under the radar,

you were flying so dangerously low.

But it wasn’t till I saw

the sunlight glinting on your wing,

that I could see you weren’t the enemy

and it was safe to let you in.

It is wonderful to feel that life really can get better as one gets older, health permitting, and there are still many opportunities to be grasped with joy and gratitude.

I attribute my progress and increasing success to all the kind and supportive people I have had the good fortune to meet along the way and above all with help from a loving and merciful God.

If you would like to find out more about the Christian Faith, then you may find the website below to be helpful.

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Tony’s book

“A Day at the Zoo”

is available on Amazon at £6.96

All poems are copyright Tony Inwood and can only be reproduced by permission.

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