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Digital copy of Witness 337's witness statement to the Inquiry providing an account of his experiences at Sacré Coeur Orphanage. [Some details redacted].
October 15th 2015 - October 15th 2015
|Scope and Content|
Background and Home Life Refers to birth in England during 1951 following his mother’s evacuation from London along with Witness 337’s grandmother and uncle during the Second World War. Refers to mother’s emigration dated 1950, and relationship with Witness 337’s father. Notes that Witness 337’s father did not accept responsibility for Witness 337’s mother’s pregnancy, and that as a result Witness 337’s mother returned to England to live with Witness 337’s grandmother. Refers to mother’s later relationship with a man with two sons from a previous marriage who had been placed at Sacré Coeur, and Witness 337’s grandmother’s death. Refers to mother’s pregnancy dated 1955, and a sibling’s placement into institutional care in England. Comments on mother’s return to live in England, and her visits to Witness 337 in Jersey via the ferry from Weymouth. Regained contact with sibling following Witness 337’s mother’s death. Institutions Refers to placement at Sacré Coeur from June 1954 until June 1966. Describes care, protection, and security provided by the Sisters at Sacré Coeur. Comments on the cleanliness, tidiness, and order present at Sacré Coeur, recalling the grounds, vegetable garden, fruit garden, greenhouses, flower patch, and game. Compares conditions at Sacré Coeur with those available in squalid and overcrowded accommodation. Provides details of Sisters, laywomen, and other staff at Sacré Coeur, also mentioning the Mother Superior. Recalls the Sisters speaking both French and English. Explains how child care and domestic duties would be divided between the Sisters. Provides details of the Chaplain attached to Sacré Coeur, mentioning St Mary’s House [St Marie’s House], St Thomas’ [Church], and confession. Recalls eight years’ service as an altar boy. Recalls performing in plays whilst speaking French, playing, and trips to the beach at West Park and Gorey, as well as the annual summer fete and fun fair. Describes how the Sisters would play with the children. Recalls being taken by the Sisters to visit Father Christmas at Briggs [Department] Store on King Street, and being treated to a Christmas Party organised by parents of pupils at De La Salle College. Provides description of daily routine at Sacré Coeur, mentioning Mass, School, meals, hobbies, and Catholic duties. Recalls helping the Sisters with domestic duties. Describes simple and plentiful food. Recalls the separation of girls and boys except for watching television, church services, and other tasks. Provides details of education at De La Salle College, and a scholarship paid for by the De La Salle Brothers. Comments on the value in education felt by the Sisters. Left School with 4 O Levels, and secured a 5th O Level after tutoring from Father Francis. Comments on caning by the Headmaster of Vauxhall School Mr Le Dain. Reflects on Catholic education at Sacré Coeur, and Witness 337’s ability to watch television, have school friends, and listen to pop music and appreciate secular influences around him. Provides reflections on discipline at Sacré Coeur. Refers to meals eaten in silence, behaviour, penance, positive reinforcement, punishments, chastisement, and the self-discipline of the children. Refers to the differing standards of punishment between the 1950s and the present day, mentioning corporal punishment, smacking, and the memoires of broadcaster Peter Snow published in the Mail on Sunday dated 7 October 2011 regarding Wellington College. Comments on kindness shown by the Sisters and the Italian chef of the Swanson’s Hotel regarding an instance of Witness 337’s misbehaviour. States that boys with behaviour deemed out of control would be removed from Sacré Coeur. Provides memories of a Sister sharing her own recollections of her childhood in France during the First World War. Comments on the Sister protecting children from a dog near Vauxhall School, and her door to door collections for the poor. Disputes allegation made by a former resident that the Sisters were alcoholics, or that a child committed suicide. Details transition to foster care at the age of 15, mentioning advertisement placed in the Catholic churches of St Thomas’ and St Mary's and St Peter’s. Recalls sharing a room with a foster boy who had previously spent time at Haut de la Garenne. Social Services Refers to aid provided by Child Welfare Officer [Assistant Children’s Officer] Mr Charles Smith, mentioning a foster placement so that Witness 337 could continue his education rather than begin an apprenticeship. Comments on aid provided by Charles Smith regarding Witness 337’s preparation for interviews and employment. Abuse and Consequences Comments that had abuse occurred at Sacré Coeur, Witness 337’s mother would have removed Witness 337 from the care of the Sisters. Contests allegations of neglect and emotional, physical and sexual abuse at Sacré Coeur. Comments that some children at Sacré Coeur were there only on a temporary boarding basis during the week, and returned to their parents at the weekend, and a as result, there were ample occasions for abuse to be reported to parents. Reflects on physical punishment by one Sister. Criticises the publication of a book containing another resident’s memories of Sacré Coeur by Harper Collins. Events after Leaving Care Refers to mother’s institution to [an institution], and her marriage to an alcoholic. Recalls being taken out of Sacré Coeur by his mother to live with her and her new husband at the age of 14. Describes fear of his mother’s husband, and bullying and emotional abuse. Refers to mother and husband’s temporary employment with a wealthy retired couple, and Witness 337’s request to return to Sacré Coeur. Recalls employment at a bakery, and other employment organised by the Mother Superior of Sacré Coeur during the school holidays of 1966. Refers to employment, mentioning an advertisement in the JEP [Jersey Evening Post] regarding a business involved in selling farming produce. Left Jersey at the age of 19 with the aid of Charles Smith, mentioning temporary rented accommodation and life in London. Comments on employment and a FE [Further Education] College through which Witness 337 gained 3 A Levels due to which he could later attend university. Provides details of contact with his mother, and mother’s thoughts regarding Witness 337’s placement at Sacré Coeur. Provides photographs showing that Witness 337 was healthy and happy whilst at Sacré Coeur. Thanks member of the Jersey Community for their kindness during Witness 337’s childhood, also mentioning Mr and Mrs Wood of Mountview Hotel on New St John’s Road and their help in the selling of raffle tickets. Remains grateful to his mother for his placement at Sacré Coeur rather than letting Witness 337 be adopted, due to his continued relationship with his mother. States that he has not met his father, but has been sent a photo of his father by a sibling. Refers to the Sisters providing care to children at Sacré Coeur, even if this care did not conform to the ideas of Benjamin Spock. Refers to visits to the Sisters as an adult, either in Jersey or in their retirement home in Paris. Also mentions contact with the Sisters via e-mail. Comments on commemorative plaque donated by Witness 337 to the Sisters and installed at the former entry gate to Sacré Coeur.
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