WHEN it came to choosing between Boston and Ballarat, it was an easy choice for the Bashford-Leger family.
Ballarat – and its schools, friendliness and family atmosphere – won hands down.
The family of three had searched the world for the best city to live in before settling on Ballarat.
“We’ve been here three years now and we really love it,” mum Samantha Bashford-Leger said.
The family’s journey began when Samantha Bashford, an English literature and drama teacher from Sussex, England, met Melbourne-born Michael Leger when they were both working in Bermuda.
Mrs Bashford-Leger fell pregnant but disaster struck in her first trimester when her waters broke and she was evacuated to Boston in the United States by emergency air transport.
Son Luca was born at 23 weeks, weighing only 500 grams.
Doctors told the pair Luca’s death was “not a question of if, but when and nothing else short of a miracle could save him”.
Luca’s miracle came in the form of a doctor who refused to wait for a respiratory team to intubate him as per the usual hospital procedure.
“Our son was so small he didn’t even fit into nappies designed for premature babies at all. The nurses used to cut one down to size for him. But he got his shot at life.”
After six months of fighting and family prayers from all over the world, Luca was able to go home.
The family returned to England where Mrs Bashford-Leger’s mother, who was a nurse, could help look after Luca but rising house and educational costs forced them to start looking for an alternative in 2011.
Mrs Bashford-Leger put in several applications for overseas teaching positions and fell in love with Ballarat as soon as she arrived on a week long visit for an interview at Ballarat Clarendon College.
“We thoroughly enjoy Ballarat’s community and found not only Ballarat to be friendly but its historic buildings and rich history gives so much character to the city that we felt at home easily after coming from the UK,” she said.
The family will move into its Lucas home in August, with a favourite pastime being walking their dogs in Victoria Park.
“We thought about Boston for a while and we pretty much looked around the world but now we’re settled in Ballarat.”
Luca, 10, said his favourite parts of the town were the lake and his school, Ballarat Clarendon College, where he loves playing piano and violin.