TRACKING down a long lost sister in Australia prompted a Thornaby grandmother to write a book about her traumatic childhood growing up in an orphanage .

When Anne Fothergill’s mother walked out on her family in January 1951 her life changed forever.

The two-year-old was taken with her older sister to a Middlesbrough convent run by the Poor Sisters of Nazareth where she spent 13 years in care.

Despite the austere conditions which left her feeling institutionalised, she feels no resentment at her  treatment in Nazareth House.

After her mother died in 1976, she found she had a younger half-sister who had been born in Scotland and then adopted.

After years of searching she finally made contact via the internet in 2011 with her sibling who was raised in Australia.

It led to a joyous reunion and compelled Mrs Fothergill to write about her painful childhood for the first time.

The book is filled with both humorous and sad anecdotes, ranging from running away, having her head shaved, and meeting her mother again after six years.

“Finding my adopted sister was a turning point, I wanted to write it all down as I’m proud of how I have turned out,” said the 64-year-old who is married to Alan and has three children and seven grandchildren.

"I was ashamed to be known as a ‘Nazzie House Girl’. It was a stigma back then. Now with the distance of time it does not bother me any more. I have come to terms with my past,” she added.

Memoirs of a Nazareth House Girl by Anne Fothergill is available at Waterstones in Middlesbrough, Strickland & Holt in Yarm and Guisborough Bookshop, Guisborough priced £7.95.