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Digital copy of Witness 237's witness statement to the Inquiry providing an account of his experiences in care at Sacré Coeur. [Some details redacted].
October 10th 2014 - October 10th 2014
|Scope and Content|
• Motivation to provide evidence to the Inquiry Refers to an article published in the Jersey Evening Post regarding evidence provided to the Inquiry by a former resident at Sacré Coeur during the 1950s [Exhibit 1: C/D/AW1/C/WD005135/1]. States that he disagrees with the description of life at Sacré Coeur in the article in respect of the mistreatment of children living there. Also refers to Letters to the Editor published in the Jersey Evening Post providing comments on various articles published in the Jersey Evening Post relating to Sacré Coeur [Exhibit 2: C/D/AW1/C/WD005135/2]. Outlines decision to provide evidence to the Inquiry to provide a balanced view about life at Sacré Coeur during the 12 years he was there between 1939 and 1951 which contrast to those articles in the Jersey Evening Post. • Sacré Coeur States that he was born in Jersey in 1935. Notes that he was taken into the care of the States of Jersey and placed at Sacré Coeur with his siblings in 1939 when he was aged 4. Cites mother's desertion and father's inability to care for his children whilst working as reason for care. Recalls that the staff at Sacré Coeur were nuns. Includes recollections of the roles of some of the nuns, including a French nun who was in charge during the time he was there. Recalls that there was a factory at Sacré Coeur in which one of the nuns worked and that there were two nuns in charge of each of the three dormitories for boys, girls and younger children. Recalls another nun who looked after the girls who was known to be strict. Includes recollections of an adult male at Sacré Coeur who collapsed during a church service and shortly after died. States that this man was the only person from Sacré Coeur who died during the time he was there, refuting an account of a child being forced to sleep in a room with a dead nun contained in an article published in the Jersey Evening Post in 2014. Includes recollections of the building at Sacré Coeur, referring to a photograph of the building in Exhibit 2. Refers to the separation of girls and boys at Sacré Coeur, describing the location of different areas of the building including the dormitories, staff quarters, yards, breakfast rooms and classroom. Describes life at Sacré Coeur, referring to the number of children in residence and memories of older girls who helped with laundry. Includes recollections of the daily routine at Sacré Coeur, including comments about the food, chores, schooling at Vauxhall Street School, playtime and Latin lessons during the winter. Recalls that there was no education in English at Sacré Coeur and that food was grown in the gardens of the Home. Refers to life at Sacré Coeur before the Second World War, mentioning trips to the country and the beach. Recalls being part of the choir at Sacré Coeur until he was 13 and going to a club at St Mary's House in the evenings as he got older. Describes being made to work and do chores at Sacré Coeur, recalling different chores allocation to girls and boys. Includes recollections of cleaning the boys' dormitory, polishing the floor and gardening. Recalls that older boys had responsibility for looking after the younger boys, including helping when younger boys wet the bed. Recalls that children's clothes were taken to a launderette to be washed. States to have no recollection of children having to work in the factory as per a description in Exhibit 1. Recalls being taught how to breed and kill chickens. Includes recollections of Christmas at Sacré Coeur and receiving presents. Recalls that children would get Christmas presents, noting that some presents would be taken away from them. Recalls being given a bike for Christmas when he was aged 6, noting that the bike was taken away from him by 27 December. Also recalls not receiving a Christmas present in his last year at Sacré Coeur. Recalls going to St Thomas' Church during the Christmas period and helping to erect fairy lights. Also recalls being given a prayer book and pictures for good behaviour. Describes clothing worn by children at Sacré Coeur, noting that all children wore the same uniform all year around. Describes the uniform as smart, refuting claim in Exhibit 1 that children wrote frocks that looked like sacks. Includes memories of life at Sacré Coeur during the Occupation. Recalls seeing Germans around Jersey, referring to the creation of underground tunnels. Recalls that the Germans had a station built of corrugated iron that blocked access to a field in which children had played football prior to the Second World War. Recalls being able to see German soliders fighting with knives by standing on a wall at Sacré Coeur. Recalls collecting food from a farm during the Occupation and hiding meat and apples from the Germans in a wheelbarrow. Recalls that there was a German priest at the church during the Occupation who would give boys a sixpence, noting that this money would be taken away from them by the nuns. Describes contact with his family whilst at Sacré Coeur, stating that he was not allowed to see [his siblings] as they were separated from each other by the nuns. States that he only saw his father twice whilst at Sacré Coeur, stating that this limited contact was his father's choice. States that whilst he was at Sacré Coeur his father met his new partner and paid for private education for his partner's children. Recalls a lack of involvement of the States of Jersey in the management or oversight of Sacré Coeur. Recalls boys from Haut de la Garenne staying at Sacré Coeur for a short period whilst he was at Sacré Coeur, including comments about his understanding of the type of children who were sent to Haut de la Garenne. States that he was christened twice, firstly as a Protestant before being re-christened as a Catholic. Includes reflections of his upbringing at Sacré Coeur, stating that he is not aware of any abuse which took place at Sacré Coeur and his disbelief of allegations of abuse in the care system in Jersey. • Abuse Recalls younger boys being made to sleep in their wet sheets when they wet the bed, noting that the sheets would be placed back on the bed after they had dried without being washed. Includes memories of discipline at Sacré Coeur. Recalls that one of the nuns would smack and push boys and hit boys with a broom handle for minor misdemeanours. Recalls that younger children would be smacked for wetting the bed. Also recalls incidents of being locked into the shoe room and changing room as punishment for misbehaviour, stating to have no knowledge of children being locked in a coal cellar. Recalls incident where he and another boy were caned by [a teacher] after they beat up boys from school who were not at Sacré Coeur on the instruction of a nun for locking the doors to a gate to the church. Refers to understanding that his daughter's friend and other children were sexually abused at St Brelade's [Clos des Sables] Family Group Home, noting that this alleged sexual abuse occurred after he was in the care of the States of Jersey and is the only evidence of abuse that he is aware of. • Events after leaving Sacré Coeur Recalls being taken out of Sacré Coeur in 1951 by his father, stating that he found the adjustment from Sacré Coeur to life outside difficult. Describes gaining employment at his father's place of work. Recalls regularly visiting [his sister] at Sacré Coeur after he left, stating that she stayed at Sacré Coeur until she was 18. States that [his sister] struggled with the adjustment upon leaving, referring to her being put into Elizabeth House. Describes meeting his wife after leaving Sacré Coeur, referring to comment sby her about his confidence after leaving the Home. Provides details of his wife's memories of Sacré Coeur, noting that she also stayed there for a short period as a child. States that his wife was taken to Sacré Coeur because her mother was having an illegal abortion and provides details of comments by her about the nuns, soap, food, clothes, chores and showering. Includes comments about his wife's family and upbringing, referring to an incident when his wife's mother was arrested after his wife told someone that her mother had left and so wanted to be taken to Sacré Coeur.
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