Sioux Waters

My family moved around a lot for my father's work when I was a child, so it was decided when I was five years old and ready to begin school that I would go to a boarding school.

My clothes were packed up in a large trunk and stood waiting for collection in my bedroom, so I took the opportunity to hide my favorite doll, Patsy, deep under my uniforms.

I was terrified the whole trip there and once my parents had been shown my dormitory, they left me with the staff lady who unpacked everything neatly into drawers. She was surprised when she found my doll but she smiled and hid it in my bedside cabinet, then took me down for dinner.

The school seemed massive, and the only person I knew there was my cousin Heather, who was one year older than me and my aunt, Heather's mother, who worked there in the kitchen. My aunt looked out for Heather and made sure her school life was happy but other than taking me home with them in the holidays, I was pretty much alone.

My doll gave me such comfort! As I lay in the narrow cold bed at night, listening to the other girls sleeping, I didn't dare show her to anyone as I knew we weren't supposed to have brought toys with us. Our free time was spent doing sports or arts.So; my doll became my nighttime companion.

One morning I woke up to the sound of the other girls laughing as I had fallen asleep with Patsy in my arms, but one girl, Kate, stood up for me. The next holiday break she brought her doll, Amy, back with her. We formed a firm friendship and spent many happy times playing together and making frocks for Patsy and Amy. Our sewing and knitting classes became our favorite time. We would sneak off to secretly make each other's doll a new outfit for each other's birthday.

I got to go to Kate's house for the holidays, which was a much nicer time than when I had to go to my aunt's. To this day (we are now in our 50's) Kate and I are still good friends and both still have our beloved dolls. We were bridesmaids for each other, and have seen our own daughters grow up together, and both now live in England, where they remain good friends.

Kate and I still take comfort in our dolls. Occasionally we still surprise each other with a new outfit for Patsy or Amy.