A FORMER evacuee still pays his respects to the family that took him in 80 years ago by laying flowers at their graves on the anniversary of the eve of the Second World War.

Alan Kay, of Newton Aycliffe in Durham, was only 12-years-old when he was evacuated from his home near Newcastle to live with a family in Witherslack.

Now aged 92, the engineer has returned nearly every year to the area where he spent his teenage years.

“I had such a wonderful time, I will never forget it,” he said."As we arrived into Oxenholme station we didn’t know where we were going, it was all left in the lap of the gods.”

“But going to Witherslack ended up being the cream of the cake and I’m still so thankful to this day to the family, they were so kind.”

Mr Kay lived with the auctioneer Harold Hodgson and his family at Lawns House near Witherslack Hall for around three years during the war.

He described how he was taken in as “one of the family” and as an ‘outdoor lad’ he could not wait to explore the fells.

“I would help out on the farm near Nether Hall,” he continued. "I was more than happy to muck in, I would milk the cows first thing, feed the dogs, collect the firewood, clean the shoes, and feed the ferrets, I was so happy to do it.”

During those years Mrs Hodgson was like a mother to Mr Kay, who also developed a very close friendship with son Sam until his death at the age of 60 in 1980.

“Even after I left to go back to Newcastle I stayed in touch with them,” he said. "My own family would also come and spend their holidays with them.”

However, following Mr and Mrs Hodgson’s death, Mr Kay made it a mission to try to travel every year, on the date he became an evacuee, to lay flowers on their gravestones and thank them again for the life they provided him.

“They did bring me up,” he said. “I couldn’t have been treated any better.”

Another evacuee who travelled from Pendleton, Greater Manchester, to Grange-over-Sands said the community welcomed him and the rest of his school, around 150 pupils, into the community instantly.

David Monk of West Kilbride, in Scotland, was only eight years old when he was evacuated and stayed with a family called the Hobsons.

Now aged 80, Mr Monk has fond memories of his time in Grange.

“I remember I had quite an affection for Mrs Hobson,” he said. "She used to come and visit my parents over the holidays after the war.”

As a job, Mr Monk was a paperboy and used to deliver The Westmorland Gazette.