Emigration has delivered

Emigration has delivered

2 November 2011

THE recession was the driving force behind the emigration of one Killough family earlier this year.

Mother-of-four Louise Sharvin says the economic downturn influenced her decision to leave Ireland for a better life in Australia.

Although Louise, a social worker, and her husband Alan, a computer test manager, were personally unscathed by the rising unemployment rate, she felt life had become depressing due to the rising stress on families and the lack of opportunity.

When Alan's employer Paddy Power approached him last Christmas to see if he would be willing to relocate to Melbourne as part of an expansion programme, the family were tempted by the lucrative salary, free flights and offer of temporary housing.

But they were even more excited by the opportunity for adventure that emigration offered them and their children, two year-old twins Brodie and Woody, three year-old Sé and 13 year-old Rachel.

Louise said she had become increasingly disillusioned with Northern Ireland and wanted the children to experience life elsewhere.

"We were fortunate in that we had just built our dream home and had good jobs at home, but life was a struggle and not offering us much excitement. We agonised about the decision but in the end the opportunity was too great," she said.

"It seemed everyone at home had to live to work rather than working to live. The advertisement for Australia showed families spending more time together doing outdoor sporting activities with parents working less. Of course that seemed brilliant."

Louise believes the premature death of her mother may also have influenced her decision to see as much of the world as possible.

"I lost my mother very suddenly five years ago and that left a great hole in my life," she said.

"She helped me in every move, with childcare and giving me emotional and financial support.

"After her death I felt such disappointment that her life had ended before she had seen all she wanted to see, and I guess at some unconscious level that made me want to seize the opportunity to not let life pass me by.

"I know in my heart that if my mother was alive I would never have come out here."

Louise's father, Peter Heathwood, last week told the Down Recorder about the devastation he felt when he learnt Louise and Alan planned to emigrate with his four grandchildren.

Peter described Louise's going away party as something akin to an "emigration "wake." This is a sentiment echoed by Louise's husband Alan.

"Alan said the tears shed by some of our family members were like those seen at a wake, it felt like some people were saying goodbye forever," she said.

"Leaving my family was definitely the hardest thing I have ever had to do and the lead-up to our departure was unbearable.

"I was sad at the thought of not having my nieces and nephews close by and not having my grandmother to run to when things got tough. She was always there with tea and a bun.

"It hurt to see my sister in so much pain about us leaving, and then there was my daddy, who was always close at hand when I needed him. I did wonder if I would cope without them.

"But I have stayed focussed on the opportunities I am giving to my own cubs and that has to remain my top priority. We are also in the fortunate position of being able to come home for holidays and that is what we are planning for next summer."

Despite the heartache of missing family, Louise says Australian life has delivered "what is says on the tin", with lots of outdoor family time, sports for children and days on the beach.

"There are, of course, days when I just want to be home in my own 'home', but for now this is the best move for the Sharvins," she says.

"As time moves on and we get on our feet I feel more settled. The kids have not looked back, including our teenager who loves her new school. The boys are too young to have much of an understanding about the change in their lives although they do often tell me they want to see granny - it must be her buns again."