Leighton Buzzard golf club professional Maurice Campbell is heading back to his native New Zealand – to spend “quality time” with the family he never knew he had.
Having moved to the UK in 1995 at the age of 23, Maurice was appointed professional at the Plantation Road club in 2001, quickly establishing himself as one of the best golf coaches in the region.
Settling down in Cotefield Drive with wife Nicola and son Callum, Maurice’s life was complete when daughter Olivia arrived three years later, followed by grandparents Rod and Rena, retiring from their service-station business near Auckland and moving to the UK to live close to their son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren.
Sadly, Rod passed away in 2012, and when Rena died four years later, she was interred with her husband at a cemetery in Bletchley.
Days later, a bombshell struck when Maurice received a letter from New Zealand asking him to contact the adoption agencies there.
To his absolute amazement, he was told that:
* within 24 hours of his birth, he had been adopted;
* his birth name was Christopher Louis Callagher;
* his maternal mother Louise Moses and grandmother Florence Callagher were still alive;
* that he has three sibling sisters, Charmaine, Katie and Sarah, cousins, nephews and nieces,
* that his name was changed to Maurice Campbell by his adoptive parents when he was aged two, and
*his birth family were keen to make contact.
Hours of telephone conversations later, Maurice and his family packed their bags and flew to Auckland, only for grandmother Florence to pass away before they arrived.
“That was a real downer” said Maurice, adding: “meeting the family I didn’t know existed was an emotional roller-coaster and took some getting used to. But we have created an amazing bond on which I hope to build along with a new career in my native New Zealand.”
The first person to be awarded 100% marks in his final coaching and teaching exam, Maurice was awarded PGA Advanced professional status in 2008, the Foremost golf professional of the year in 2011, named in the 100 top UK coaches in 2012, was named Bedfordshire coach of the year in 2015 and has helped countless golfers to win England, County and club honours.
Now after 22 years at the 600-member Leighton club, Maurice is going to put all that experience to good use in his native New Zealand, heading up advanced coaching courses at three centres near Auckland.
Adds Maurice, who will be making the 12,000 mile flight to New Zealand in early March to be joined by three-year-old pet Golden Labrador Cindy once quarantine regulations have been complied with: “I will be forever grateful for the opportunities and experiences the Leighton Buzzard golf club and its members have given me over the years. It’s been a great journey – and it’s not over yet.”
Says Golf Club President Trevor Stimpson: “Maurice has been a great ambassador for the club over the years, and we all extend our thanks for his loyal service, immense coaching skills and hard work. He leaves with our best wishes for the future.”