Tally Ho Boys reunite
The Ararat Advertisers
12th October 2007
WILLAURA - An ad in a Melbourne newspaper has helped reunite two boys home residents.
Willaura's Laurie Hager and Geelong's David McIlwraith met up in Geelong after David put out the call to meet up with any other men who had been at Tally Ho boys home in Burwood from 1946 to 1951.
David had three replies; one of which was Laurie.
Laurie, who has four children and nine grandchildren, said he and David reflected on life at the home and those who were in charge.
Laurie was sent to live at Tally Ho in 1949 after his father was killed in a car accident.
Laurie said his mother could not care for the four children so they were sent to live in homes.
His two younger sisters and brother were sent to one home, while a 10-year-old Laurie was sent to Tally Ho.
Laurie spent four years at Tally Ho with around 100 other boys before being sent to work on a farm.
He was placed on the train at Melbourne and stepped off at Willaura.
"I thought what have I struck here?" Laurie said of his first thoughts on the town.
The Shalders family took Laurie under their wing on their property, where his farm duties included milking cows and assisting with cropping.
"They were a good family, they brought me up the right way," Laurie said.
Since then, Laurie has carried both the Olympic and Commonwealth Games torches in 2000 and 2006 through the streets of Ararat.
He accompanied an Ararat friend around Australia, with the duo the first to drive a grader around the country on highway one.
Laurie also has managed to track down his siblings, whom he lost contact with when they entered separate homes.
His siblings ended up in Ouyen and Stawell, and after having no contact for 30-odd years, they have reunited.
While Laurie enjoyed meeting up with David, he probably would not look to meet up with fellow Tally Ho residents.
"Life goes on, you move on from the past and get on with life," Laurie said.