jo mac

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About jo mac

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  1. Hi Heather, I was your housemother ( Miss Joanne) from 1979-80 All the children at Ramsdale totally touched my heart and even to this day I still wonder what became of you all. Everyone I cared for were very special to me, but can’t deny over the years I still think of you. I’m not sure if you’ll remember but one weekend you couldn’t go home and had nowhere to go. I took you home with me!! Today this would never be allowed but back in the 70’s it was ok. I also took my whole group I cared for to my home for a special tea party in an attempt to give you all some happy moments. I can remember taking you all blackberry picking in the grounds and going for evening walks. So it wasn’t all bad, but I’m sure as a young child it must have felt awful. I have a few photos of our time in the school buried somewhere in my loft along with my own family memories. The abuse many of you suffered from your home lives/ relatives still haunts me today and I do still talk about it. I hope as an adult you have found some happiness and I can assure you myself and the other house mothers had some battles with Miss Alton when we saw or heard anything we didn’t approve of. I hope my words can give you some comfort and that you now know you were cared about. Jo ( Miss Joanne )
  2. I worked at Ramsdale park school as a House mother from 1979 -80, & I am currently living in temporary rented accommodation, which is on the outskirts of the old school grounds. I walk my dogs everyday around the old site & it has triggered many memories. There were 3 housemothers & the children were divided between us & our senior & 1 housemother lived in. We worked split shifts from 7 am in the morning, until they went to school, we then went home & returned from 3-9pm. We had to enter through what would have been the tradesman's entrance to the far right of the building , next to the kitchen. This was very much a classic large country house kitchen. there was a rear staircase & the children resided on the 1st & second floor. They shared large dormitories with metal framed beds & there were at least 6- 8 children in each room. The bathrooms were large & communal , with baths divided by partition walls. It felt extremely Victorian in style. Each floor consisted of long corridors & had a very institutionalised feel to it. My role was to get them up, washed & dressed in a morning. After which we took them down to breakfast in the large panelled dining room, which was on the far left of the building, it was a bright room & housed a big fireplace. We then walked them to the purpose built school annexe ( built 60's/70's) They ranged in age from 5 - 12 years old. The children resided Monday to Friday only, going home for the weekends. Upon their return ,Monday morning always began with having to de-louse the children. Probably only 20% had true special needs, quite a few came from neglected backgrounds, suffering physical & sexual abuse & some had just slipped through the educational net & had got behind. The main inner hall was rather lovely & had panelled oak walls & banisters, with a wide staircase. In bad weather the staff got snowed in & had to sleep in the green domed towers. These were large round rooms , dark & rather eerie to sleep in. The paths & woods surrounding it today have changed very little , but are certainly more overgrown. The headmistress lived in a newly built bungalow at the top of the drive, in front of the main house.. Inside the majority of the house always felt dark & oppressive. It must have been a frightening place for the children!