Former children’s home resident says abuse was ‘way of life’

Chair of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, Lady Smith. Picture: Nick Mailer
Chair of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, Lady Smith. Picture: Nick Mailer
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A man who went to live in a children’s home after finding his mother’s body has said the daily abuse he suffered there became a “way of life”.

“George”, now in his late 60s, told the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry that he was routinely beaten and humiliated after being sent to live at Quarrier’s Village in Renfrewshire aged six.

He and his sister were admitted to the orphanage in 1961 after he came home from school one day to find his mother dead.

He told the inquiry that he only found out years later that his sister had been sexually abused by a man at Quarriers.

Led by Lady Smith, the inquiry is currently hearing evidence relating to institutions run by Quarriers, Aberlour and Barnardo’s.

George, whose identity is protected for legal reasons, said he was put in the care of a married couple, but the inquiry heard the set-up described as a “business relationship”.

He said: “In my opinion, it wasn’t about two adults looking after a group of children; it was two adults who were employed by someone to be there. They showed no love whatsoever, no caring, no understanding.”

George said there was force-feeding and children who wet the bed were called “dirty and disgusting”.

Asked by Jane Rattray, counsel to the inquiry, whether physical chastisement was a daily occurrence, he answered: “Every day. It was as if it was the natural thing to do to you to knock you about, to shout at you. It became a way of life.”

George and his sister were later discharged from Quarrier’s Village and went to live with their father and step-mother.

He told the inquiry that years later when both he and his sister were adults, she told him she had been touched inappropriately at the home and “implied” she had been raped.

Earlier the inquiry heard from “Alan” who described his years at Quarriers in the early 1960s as “really, really positive,” saying the day he left to be returned to his “horrible” mother was the “end of my childhood”.

Alan entered Quarriers aged two and while he lived with one of his brothers, he was unaware he had two other brothers at the home until the day he left, aged eight.

Asked by Ms Rattray if he felt he had lost out by being taken away from Quarriers, he said: “Very much so. I believe that if I had been left in Quarriers, I would have completed by education. I could have been a lawyer, a doctor, maybe even a judge. When I left Quarriers, that was all gone.”

Last week lawyers for Quarriers reiterated an “unreserved apology” to survivors of abuse.