Why Stephen Hough became an Australian citizen
Why did you decide to apply for Citizenship By Descent?
My father was born in Mayfield, NSW in 1926. For family reasons, about which I’ve never really found out, he and his mother moved back to the UK and his father stayed in Mayfield until his death in 1961. This was also the year in which I was born. My father died in 1982 aged 55, having never met his father, and I am an only child.
My reasons for applying for Australian citizenship (although keeping my British citizenship as well) are three-fold. Firstly, I loved the country from the moment I landed for the first time at Kingsford Smith Airport in 1992. After a long, arduous journey the marvelous, radiant morning light there was like a balm. It was November and it was summer; coming from a dark New York winter that was already something wonderful. But as we drove into the centre of the city I fell in love with this extraordinary place, so full of contrasts: its Victorian past happily co-existing with its exhilaratingly multi-cultural present; the wildness of its position on the edge of the ocean with the sophistication of its cultural life. My second reason follows on from the first: I thought that I may very well want to live at least part of the year in Australia in the future. But the third reason for me to try to obtain citizenship came when I discovered some old letters and papers of my grandfather’s and father’s. There was a link here with the past which was in danger of being lost and forgotten. It seemed to me to be a way to heal the broken and now deceased generations of my family, a hand stretched out to Thomas Victor Hough, the father and grandfather whom neither my father nor myself were able to meet.
Is one or both of your parents Australian? How old are you? Where were you born? If overseas did you visit Australia as a child?
I was born in Heswall, Cheshire and my mother was born in Liverpool. So only my father had any link with Australia, and a fleeting one at that! But there is something highly non-traditional in the way Australia as a country has come to life. People arrived there by chance, by force, in fear, in hope – and out of this emotional and cultural melting pot there has emerged a society unequalled in equality and opportunity.
Do you visit Australia now, if so, when and why? How do you feel when you come here? What do you like about Australia? Any plans to live in Australia?
I have visited Australia regularly over the past ten years to play concerts. Another thing about the country which excites me is its distinguished and colourful artistic life. Whether theatre, literature, dance or music there is sparkle and stimulation in Australia. I hope as the years pass that I will be able to find the time to visit for more extended periods of vacation as well as work.
What process did you have to go through to become a Citizen by Descent?
It was amazingly simple because my father was born there. I needed to get his birth certificate and mine, fill in a refreshingly straightforward form, and pay a small fee – I think it was around US$100.
Did you have a citizenship ceremony? Where did it take place? Were any of your family and friends present? How did you feel at the ceremony?
Actually there was no suggestion of a ceremony. I simply received a colourful certificate through the post showing my new Australian citizenship. It was a great thrill to see that piece of paper and to realise the opportunities and responsibilities it offered.
What do you think will be the benefits of becoming an Australian citizen? Would you recommend becoming a citizen to other eligible people?
I suppose we can never fully appreciate the benefits of something like this. From simple things like being able to walk quickly through passport control upon arrival, to the infinite future possibilities of taking up a position of employment or having a change of life … I would unhesitatingly recommend becoming a citizen to anyone who might be eligible.
Are there any other comments you wish to add?
I hope that I can contribute something myself to this wonderful country as the years pass. I think that patriotism has nothing to do with exclusiveness but rather has to do with responsibility and gratitude. Those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to live in places where there is freedom, opportunity, medical care and political stability should never take this for granted. And then there is the wine!