Can you help Mark in his Gisburn quest?

computer quest: Mark Harrington at his home in Spain, researching his wartime evacuation to Gisburn 70 years ago.
computer quest: Mark Harrington at his home in Spain, researching his wartime evacuation to Gisburn 70 years ago.
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DO you remember Gisburn during the Second World War? Do you know who lived in what is now Holgate House, next to the River Ribble at Mill Bridge, close to the village?

If you do, then a man is Spain would love to hear from you. Mark Harrington, now 76, was evacuated to the house at Mill Bridge during the war – although it took a good deal of high-tech detective work to discover that.

Despite having vivid childhood memories of the house, its setting on the river and his experiences there during the war, Mark could not remember the name of the place or the people who looked after him.

“They looked after me so well and treated me like a prince so it is amazing I don’t remember them or didn’t keep in touch,” said Mark, who now lives in Torrevieja.

It was when he was given a laptop computer for his 75th birthday that Mark decided to research his wartime experience. Despite being a computer novice, and with the help of an instructor, his search began to bear fruit.

Through posting requests for information on websites designed to reunite long-lost friends, and using what little information he could remember, he narrowed down the location to Gisburn. Unfortunately the one schoolfriend whose name he could remember turned out to be in a nursing home and suffering from dementia.

Undeterred, Mark used the picture in his mind’s eye of the house on the river and searched for images online, eventually finding a shot of Holgate House on Google Earth and recognising it instantly.

For the past 12 years it has been run as a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre and Mark has managed to make contact with its present owners who were fascinated by his story. But Mark would love to find out more about the family who lived at Mill Bridge in the 1940s and looked after him so well, and to make contact with any relatives who might be in the area. He even hopes to visit in person, retracing his wartime footsteps.

Mark’s story has featured in his local newspaper in Spain, where it was read by a couple from Colne who were on holiday. On their return they contacted The Clitheroe Advertiser to help Mark in his quest and anyone with information can contact Gemma Quinn, the reporter on Mark’s local paper, by e-mail to: gquinn.reporter@gmail.com