Age 11

In March 1969, age 11, following a prolonged period of suffering serious physical abuse and domestic violence in the home, and the subsequent separation of my mother and step-father, I was separated from my younger brother and I had a mental breakdown which was not diagnosed or treated.

With my brother

The boys school

The police had previously escorted me and my mother away from the family home to a new address to protect us from further violence and we were living in a near-derelict house. I was initially sleeping on a bed constructed from a door and boxes.

I was placed in a boy’s school and I failed to engage with the other boys or the teachers, often spending hours staring in silence out of the window and unable to participate in school activities and lessons.

The Children's Hospital

Following the move to the boy’s school and feeling low and unhappy, I absconded from school and took myself to an A&E. I was on my own and aged 11. I managed to see a doctor who re-examined me when my mother later attended.

The doctor recorded that despite observation and exhaustive investigation he was unable able to call my condition anything other than ‘ idiopathic’ (spontaneous and the cause unknown) and he repeated a Mantoux (screening tool for tuberculosis) and a repeat x-ray of my chest and an A.S.T. (Aspartate aminotransferase test) which is associated with symptoms of a liver disorder, hepatitis viruses, and alcoholism. The results of the A.S.T were recorded as ‘strongly positive at 833 Todd Units (testing for antistreptolysin O (ASO) .320 is normal for children) which suggested a recent streptococcal infection which may well have triggered the Erythema Nodosum.

During this period, I was secretly drinking my mother’s alcohol and self-harming and causing abrasions and redness to my shins.

In April 1969, on my 12th Birthday, I was abandoned in the same hospital by my mother following a tonsillectomy operation. 25 days later (in May 1969) I was taken into ‘temporary’ local authority care under Section 1 of the Children’s Act 1948 and subsequently placed in a private North Wales Children Home known as Bryn Alyn Community which was owned by John Allen. I remained in local authority care until 1973.

Google link: Children's Act 1948