Finding old Friends

Submitted by bertiedog on Tue, 04/15/2008 - 18:19

I lived in HK over 30 years ago and am returning for the first time later this year. I had many friends there and a few expats I kept in touch with up until a few years ago.

I am looking to catch up with them if they are still there or can find out where they have moved to .

A couple lived on Cheng Chau for a long time. Phil & Cynthia ("Tinny") Rosenberg. Phil was last selling titles to "One Square Inch of Hong Kong land" as a gimick for investors.

My other friend was a long time resident, Renee Ballerand,who I believe had a boutique on Hong Kong last I spoke to her.

So in the slight chance that some expat or someone reading this can help me get in contact I would appreciate it.

The years I spent in HK I now consider the best days of my life. the 70s were such great fun in HK and oh so easy.

I hope that I will be able to handle the place this time !



Sorry I don't know either of the people you're looking for, but here are some tips for you, and for future visitors looking for old friends.

First there's the direct approach - "if you know of XYZ, please contact me." Obviously that's the quickest way if it works. There are several busier expat forums in Hong Kong, so you'll probably want to post your message to them as well to increase your chances. eg the first page of results for this google search lists all the main ones.

Then there's the indirect approach, where you look for friends and acquaintances from the time, and through them get in touch with the people you are looking for. Let's say you were all members of the same company / school / sports club / etc. Are there already any pages on the internet where ex-members of those groups get together?

If not, you can start a page here asking for people that were members to get in touch. See the Royden House thread for an example of how that has worked.

You might be lucky and get an immediate reply, but you'll really boost your chances if let the search engines help you out. So in 3 months time if someone else thinks "I wondered what happened to <your company / school / club>", and they do a google search, they find your message.

To make that work best:

  • Include your name and nicknames if possible, so if someone is searching for you they can find you
  • Split your messages into one per topic. eg one for the company, one for your club.
  • Include what you are looking for in the title. So instead of 'Finding old friends', try 'Looking for Renee Ballerand'. It will help your message appear higher in google's list of results. It will also help attract attention of the regular readers on the forums - eg they might not bother clicking on a 'Finding old friends' message, but if they know Renee they'd certainly read a message titled 'Looking for Renee Ballerand'
  • Include a contact email address. The problem with the search approach is you don't know if someone will read your message after one day or one year. If it is after one year you'll have probably stopped checking the forums by then, so leave a way for the reader to contact you. (If you're worried about the extra spam that will cause, consider recaptcha).

Good luck with your search,


Hello Bertie,

I just came across your post...

Renee Ballerand is my cousin & still lives in Hong Kong !

Send me a message & i'l give you here address & tel .



I grew up in Hong Kong and was around 30 years ago when we used to have wonderful times at Renee's parties at her parents' home in Old Peak Road - those really were the days. I and another friend who now lives in Wales are anxious to contact Renee urgently, and the friend in Wales will be here (I am in HK too now) in two weeks' time for her mother-in-law's funeral, and asked me to try and find Renee. I would be very grateful if you would share a telephone number with me, so I can get in touch with Renee.

Thank you so much and kindest regards, K

Oh I had almost given up home of finding Renee and it was only by chance that I have come back to Batgung hitting the book mark by mistake.
Renee doesn't know it but my wife Deirdre & I named our daughter(now almost 23) after her,of course she is named Renee.
On September 29 we are leaving Australia for a 6 day holiday in HK with Renee and our son who will turn 18 on October 3 while we are there. We will be staying at the Cosmopolitan Hotel Happy Valley.
Please make contact with Renee on our behalf by all means . Our phone number is 02 66512001 email
This will be our first trip back to Hong Kong since we left in 1974.
I am so happy I have tears in my eyes writing this thinking that we shall be actually be able to meet our dear friend again after so long.
BTW She used to have the best parties in HK and was such a lady.


Hello -

In the hope that someone there still remembers us !  Our family name is Brooks. Our family was one of the longest residing European families in HK - arriving in 1922 when my grandfather, Henry Tom, was transferred from London with the task of modernizing the Fire Brigade in HK.  Part of this was the establishment of the Central Fire Station in des Voeux Road. This was accomplished in 1926 and my grandfather moved there to live. 

My father, RHJ Brooks (Ron), who was 12 when he arrived in HK, was in the merchant navy, but then joined his father in the Fire Brigade in the 1930s and was stationed at the Central Fire Station. He was interned at Stanley prison camp by the Japanese - along with my Uncle, Duncan MacPherson - at that time a Lance-Sergeant.  They both received the Kings Police and Fire Services medal in the late 1940s.  I went to Quarry Bay Junior School.  We left HK end of 1955 to live in New Zealand.



Hello David

Yes - you will see my answer re this on the relevant site.  The man mentioned is Duncan George MacPherson, who is my Uncle.

For your Stanley Listing - and 'Evacuation' Listing !

You will see, on the abovementioned site, I have added the name of my aunt, Doris Emily Elizabeth Brooks, who married Duncan MacPherson in the prison camp on 9 June 1943.

The mother of Doris, Emily Kate Brooks, was also interned at Stanley camp - she was the wife of Henry Tom Brooks; as I mentioned before, he was appointed as Superintendent of the Fire Brigade in HK with the task of modernizing the Brigade. He arrived in 1922 from London with his family and was effective in establishing two main fire stations and 11 sub-stations in the Colony. One was the CFS in des Voeux Road where he moved to after it was built in 1926. He became Chief Office and retired in 1937 to England. He died in 1940.

Unfortunately, despite my father's advice to her, not to return to HK, she did and was caught in the Japanese occupation.  Doris, and Ron (Roland Henry John Brooks) were her only children. All three, and Duncan, were interned in Stanley. All survived.

Ron also became a Fire Officer during the 1930s He married my mother, Helene Marie Caudron (she was French) on 22 Nov 1939 - the large wedding made the front page of the South China Post.  Ron made sure Helene was on the evacuation ship taking the women and children to Australia. Unfortunately his mother and sister could not be persuaded. Helene spent the war years in Sydney. She flatted with her close friend Marie Darkin (also French - her husband was also in Stanley camp). After the war Helene, Marie - and Marie's three children - plus me (born in Oz !) returned to HK.  Our family lived at the CFS in des Voeux Road until we left HK late 1955 - Ron was Deputy Chief at the CFS.

Regards, Suziepie


Thanks very much for the extra information. I've added your aunt & grandmother to the list (under your account, so you can edit them if there are any corrections to be made.)

I'm pleased to see it's the same Mr MacPherson, and that you can add some more to Raymond's notes about MacGowan / MacPherson.

regards, David

Hello everyone. In 1983/84 my mother opened a bar in Lan Kwai Fong called Niteskool. It wasn't the bar area it is now. Anyone who went to LKF then would have known it. Someone on this site 'moddsey' has posted a photo of a matchbox from there and I am trying to get hold of him/her as I am researching the history of the bar since my mother has since passsed away. If anyone can help me with getting in touch with 'moddsey' or if anyone else has memories of Niteskool do get in touch. I am planning a podcast series on the story of the bar.