Rachel Hawker

Ramsdale School (later Abbey House Nursing Home)

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My sister, in her early 20s, worked at Grove House, a large Victorian villa on the corner of Derby Grove and Ilkeston Road. It was a children's home and she had convinced herself she wanted to be a social worker. In those days, you weren't required to have any qualifications but I remember her going on some training courses.

 

My sister has always loved children and, coming from a close, loving family, she found it impossible to deal with the cruelty her charges experienced. One child was covered in burns where his mother and her boyfriend had stubbed out their cigarettes on his body. 

 

Being as soft as grease and totally out of her depth, my sister soon found that she couldn't cope with the place. She was also horrified to find that senior members of staff were hitting the children and embezzling funds, for which she duly reported them.

 

Homes such as these were closed down and children were cared for by foster parents in more suitable family settings.

 

The house is still standing. I would suppose it's now student accommodation. It must have seen a lot of misery.

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Thankyou ..its important..that these for me at anycase) not be forgotten ..for the sake of children... And social history ..only by not sweeping it under the carpet can we learn.. I realise heather your experience was happy ..mine however was not ..i realise also ms alton acted as thought  she was correct ..i realise the house mothers were understaffed .. I craved my mother as i wrote it took me years to forgive. Her and my father ..and the sytem ..however to my mothers defence...she also was bought up in full care ...if only someone had taken time to break the cycle .. Thankfully with my own i have . as yiu can imagine just to find ...it not documented is a great injustice to theses girls from under privalage back grounds .. And shear abused backgrounds. But only on the pain of of broken backs and hearts ...can we ensure ...all our vulnerable are loved and cared for .god bless all of u..for excepting this from a girl who thought no one would .hear ty x

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Its only took me 40 years to share ..if course there are many more experiences..in ramsdale some happy some shameful ..and sad ..only one happy memorey is the peacock in the grounds "chocolate drops" if i remember correctly ..everyday he waited in the grounds ..ir so i felt funny the things you remember to brighten your days :)

 

Ian 123 ..ty my love ..god bless u x we are children of a diff time.. Least now its out x

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There are many unanswered questions..why no one noticed some of the nighttime activitys of the girls..(altjough now as a resonsible mother and grandmother ..it is obvious they were acting out the abuse in their lives. Leaving some children of a night to get out of the way ...and go wondering.. Also ..the night one of the girls ..set fire to her room..... And all of us girls rushed down ... To the main school in the new building ... .and the girl in question has suddenly gone home... Never to return.. I think about her to this day ..but can i find a record? No..

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On 2/19/2018 at 4:35 PM, Cuddles said:

yes i do cause i went to ramdale school  from 1976 to the day it close it doors back in 1980. i loved it there. i have been looking for my old friends. my name back then was heather burke

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 ) 

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