From public schoolboy to begging on the streets

Ian McFadyen suffered horrific sexual abuse as a schoolboy at Caldicott Preparatory School in Buckinghamshire. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Ian McFadyen suffered horrific sexual abuse as a schoolboy at Caldicott Preparatory School in Buckinghamshire. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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The long drive that leads to the entrance of prestigious Caldicott Preparatory School took young Ian McFadyen into a world that couldn’t be further removed from his granny’s humble Leith home.

Inside the school’s imposing façade were the sons of the well-to-do, of society figures and well-known celebrities. In some cases there were boys who, like fellow pupil Nick Clegg, would go on to find fame and celebrity.

Young Ian’s hardworking parents had hoped the £20,000-a-year boarding school would set up their son for life. Sadly, in the worst way possible, they were right.

For there, in a quiet corner of a master’s room, as the busy school day turned to dusk, with the door firmly bolted and the safety of home far away, their frightened young son was systematically, brutally raped.

Deputy headteacher George Hill had a private bathroom in his study, a bathroom made available for certain little boys to whom he took a particular liking. And being one of the outwardly charming and kind Mr Hill’s favourite boys meant enduring vicious sexual abuse that would dramatically alter the course of Ian’s life forever.

Years later, down and out on the streets of Edinburgh and in a thick fog of drink and drugs as his life spiralled out of control, Ian’s privileged public school background and career spent working in some of the world’s most luxurious hotels made him among the city’s oddest beggars.

Crashed out in a stairwell between the George Hotel and the church next door, he would stagger into a 12-hour shift begging outside Sainsbury’s before topping up with his fix and heading to Lothian Road to tap the late-night revellers for cash.

Years of trying to suppress the secret of his Caldicott school days had dramatically exploded. And Ian, the innocent victim of schoolroom paedophiles who had tried to cover his despair with wild and erratic behaviour, was finally broken.

“I was assaulted from eight to 14,” he says, matter-of-fact. “I knew that I was keeping a secret and the impact on my life was enormous.

“I saw myself as a bad person, a man without honour who did not need or deserve respect. I caused mayhem and chaos in my life.

“I remember standing on the Dean Bridge thinking I’d just jump because I could never be a good person.”

More recently, and after a gruelling battle to have his voice heard by a reluctant legal system, Ian has finally seen one of his tormentors jailed. The school’s headmaster is also at last behind bars, while another teacher convicted of abuse at the school died under the wheels of a train hours before sentencing.

The man Ian calls his “worst abuser”, George Hill, committed suicide without ever being charged. Another stood trial twice and has been acquitted.

At least now that the abuse which seeped through the school for almost 30 years involving dozens – maybe even hundreds – of boys has emerged, Ian can finally forgive.

“To move on I need to offer them some form of forgiveness,” he shrugs. “I need to forgive.

“If we say ‘they are animals, let’s hang them, let’s destroy them’, we demonise them. They aren’t demons, they are people you trust and they are men from ordinary places. If we stigmatise them and make them like sub-human, we allow them to hide and they go deeper.”

Ian was eight when his parents enrolled him at Caldicott, convinced the South Buckinghamshire prep school would give him the best foundation possible in life.

His parents, Moira and Michael, had worked hard to establish a good standard of living, running luxury hotels in London and then further afield in the Middle East. The school, with its sprawling grounds, Victorian main house and short 20-mile commute to London seemed perfect.

But, as it soon became crystal clear, appearances can deceive.

Certainly the school’s deputy headmaster appeared charming and considerate to parents. But Ian would eventually learn that behind his teacher’s uniform of tweed jacket with leather elbow patches lurked a manipulative predator who cleverly convinced his young victim that being sadistically raped wasn’t only perfectly normal, it was a privilege.

“My worst abuser was George Hill. He was brutal,” recalls Ian, 47. “He took huge pleasure from inflicting pain whilst he raped you.

“I was nine years old,” he adds, softly. “And he was like the grandfather I never had.”

The abuse took place in Hill’s private bathroom which, on certain nights of the week, would be opened to boys on a rota basis. Ian would know days in advance when his turn had come.

“There was a matron across the landing,” he adds, and nearly four decades later he still can’t understand how the cries of a little boy in the hands of a rapist were never heard.

“But I knew the power the headmaster, Peter Wright, had.

“Mr Hill was the first person apart from my parents I told that I loved,” he continues, choking on the words. “I felt complicit in my own abuse. I felt that was what love was.

“So when I hit puberty and started understanding what had occurred, I couldn’t cope. I completely went off the rails.”

His goodbye gift to Caldicott involved overdosing on alcohol and having his stomach pumped. He smoked heroin for the first time soon after and by the time he was 14 he was seeking group sex with other men.

“I left little boys behind to be hurt and said nothing,” he says.

“No-one would have believed me, but in the psyche I fell into, I walked away and left other people to be hurt. That was a lot of guilt to carry.

“I was completely confused, I didn’t have a clue what my sexuality was. I was offering myself to the gay community. It was risky behaviour but I had no value for myself.”

Opportunities to follow his parents’ lead and work in the luxury hotel industry in the Middle East emerged, and soon Ian was in exotic locations, balancing a glamorous lifestyle and five-star living with the demons that continued to haunt him.

“I had fantastic opportunities,” he says. “I had a glam lifestyle, I ran hotels in the Middle East, I worked in Dubai, Oman, Hawaii. I had a flat in Morningside at the age of 18, but I drank too much and took drugs to the point of not knowing how I didn’t do myself in.

“Then it all came crashing down.”

He had been dabbling with crack cocaine and accumulated £20,000 of debts when his father died, shattering his hopes of sitting down with him and explaining the grim reasons behind his erratic behaviour.

Distraught, Ian, by now in his late 20s, quit work in Hawaii and returned to his Northumberland Street home in Edinburgh where grief, drink and debt combined to tip him into a full-scale breakdown.

As he struggled with his demons, bills mounted. Fearing his home was about to be repossessed, he packed his belongings, including his father’s wedding band, into a case which he deposited never to see again at Waverley station’s lost luggage, and lived on the streets.

“I looked like a typical spoilt public schoolboy,” he says. “I hit the streets never having been a violent person, I was like a lamb. I came off the streets like a lion. I was incredibly aggressive and justified it by saying I needed to be to survive.

“I hit the streets with a real problem with alcohol, I left with a massive heroin addiction. There’s a lot I’m positively ashamed about.”

Homeless charity Streetworks provided precious support.

After nearly two years living rough and begging, Ian battled back to health to work with the organisation as a homeless outreach worker. He was working with homeless charity Fresh Start when it featured on Channel 4’s award-winning programme Secret Millionaire.

He met wife Paula ten years ago. Her support encouraged him to finally reveal the dark events of his childhood, while at the same time opening up a whole new emotional rollercoaster.

“I have major problems forming relationships,” he confesses. “When sexualised at a young age like that, I saw every intimate relationship as a form of abuse. I have a real difficulty being affectionate.

“I can’t say ‘I love you’, I’ll say ‘I adore you’ instead. I could sleep with multiple partners yet struggle with intimacy and closeness. And yet I worship the ground my partner walks on.”

Ian is now determined to focus on moving on, perhaps running a social enterprise-style business in Peebles where he now lives, helping young people who have fallen into difficulty by offering them work.

And he is keen to raise awareness of the need for counselling services and help for male victims of abuse.

There is also some unfinished business. For when fellow Caldicott former pupil Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg appeared on a radio show phone-in, Ian was quick to corner him with pleas to introduce stricter legal requirements on schools to notify police of sex abuse claims.

The hope is, he adds, that abuse can never be ignored or covered up again.

“After the headmaster, Peter Wright, was sentenced, Nick Clegg was quoted as saying he was shocked and appalled,” sighs Ian, “but you’d have to be blind to be there and not know something was going on.

“As a child, probably not but as an adult with hindsight? Definitely.”


Last February, Ian McFadyen sat with other brave former Caldicott pupils in Amersham Crown Court to witness some justice being delivered.

Decades had passed, but finally former headmaster Peter Wright, 83, was found guilty of ten charges of indecent assault and two of indecency involving boys aged between eight and 13 at the school between 1959 and 1971. He was jailed for eight years.

Getting the case to court involved guts and determination for victims who, along with Ian – a pupil at the school from 1975 to 1980 – found themselves hampered by an apparently reluctant legal system for years.

Another of the school’s paedophile teachers, Hugh Henry, 82, died under the wheels of a train days before he was due to be sentenced for his sex assault crimes.

John Addrison, 54, was a former Caldicott pupil who as a student teacher took the opportunity to sexually abuse Ian during one-to-one tutorials. He was sentenced to five years in 2012 after admitting sex offences against pupils there and at another school.

Ian’s chief tormentor, George Hill, killed himself before any charges could be brought.

Another teacher who Ian accused of indecently assaulting him stood trial twice. The first case ended with a hung jury and he was acquitted following a retrial.


Realising he was ready to confront his years of abuse was hard enough. But Ian McFadyen found his next challenge was finding someone to speak to.

Edinburgh Women’s Sexual Abuse and Rape Centre provided some support, but as a male victim of sexual abuse, he needed specialist help.

“There is very little out there to help men,” he points out. “Men have definite needs to help them.” He eventually contacted In Care Survivors, a Fife-based group which supports people who had suffered abuse in care environments.

However, he says there is a desperate need for more services for men who have suffered childhood abuse.

“The impact of sex abuse doesn’t stop when someone is 16, it follows you through the rest of your life.”