Riverside Children’s Home

Riverside Children’s Home, Rocester, Uttoxeter, Staffs

Operation Thor

MUM-OF-THREE Samantha Stone saw and experienced shocking acts of violence as a teenager detained at scandal-hit Riverside Children’s Home.

She spent 18 months at the home in Rocester during two spells in the mid-1980s.

It was closed by Staffordshire County Council in 1989 and a number of former workers were later convicted of offences including rape and indecent assault.

Sam, of Bentilee, who first went into care aged 10, was one of numerous children abused during her stay at Riverside.

She eventually received £10,000 in compensation from the county council, as hundreds of former residents sued.

The 40-year-old has now come forward in order to speak to film-makers putting together a documentary about the home.

She said: “The first time I went, I was just a naughty child, nothing crazy, just bunking off school and things like that.

“The second time was for criminal damage due to a fire. I was actually looking at five years in prison.

“It was partially a joke and partly trying to prove a point.

“I was living in a care home and the curtains should have been flameproof.

“It was a bit of a mad night, there was a group of about 15 of us and I set fire to the curtains. I didn’t expect them to go up so fast. They sent me straight back to Riverside.”

Sam said she would see people “getting battered all the time”, but never thought anything of it.

“It was the norm for me,” she added. “You would get beaten for the slightest thing and if you ran away you would get beaten worse. It was a vicious circle.

“Riverside was split into two floors, upstairs and downstairs.

“Both were like borstal and were very regimental but the upstairs, where I happened to be, was nowhere near as bad as the downstairs, where the worst things happened. I was one of the luckier ones.”

Sam said not all of the staff were involved in the violence and abuse – but a great number were.

“There was one bloke who was massive and he just loved to batter the lads,” she said. “It was horrific some days.

“This place was supposed to be caring for us, but I would never allow my kids to go anywhere near a care home after my experiences.”

Sam was interviewed by police in 1999, when a huge investigation was launched into the staff at Riverside.

She said: “My life turned upside down when the detectives came knocking and I had to relive my childhood.

“It was a terrible place and we received no education while we were in there.

“In hindsight I should have taken the matter to court, but it was such a traumatic experience I just wanted it over and done with.”

Sam was released from care aged 18 and settled into ‘normal’ life, raising a family with her husband Malcolm.

She is now studying for a degree in Crime, Deviance and Society at Staffordshire University.

And she has now relived her experiences to the BBC.

“I hope the documentary highlights the terrible conditions we were forced to live in,” she added.

The documentary is still in production.

The Staffordshire Sentinel 30/07/10

Sex attacker’s jail term reduced


A FORMER social worker jailed for sex attacks on teenagers at an East Staffordshire children’s home has failed in a bid to have his convictions overturned – but has had his jail term cut by two years.Joseph Hopkins, was jailed for 12 years in November, 2001, after he was found guilty at a trial of one rape, nine indecent assaults and two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
The offences were all committed against children who were in care at the Riverside Children’s Home in Rocester between 1981 and 1985.
The jury cleared the 61-year-old of one charge of rape, one of indecency with a child and three further indecent assaults.
Hopkins, of Ash Grove, Lichfield, denied all the charges made against him during a two week trial at Worcester Crown Court.
After a two-hour hearing at London’s Appeal Court on Friday, Lord Justice Pill dismissed his conviction appeal – but went on to reduce his 12-year term to 10 years.
Judge Pill, sitting with Mr Justice Aikens and Mr Justice Gray, said the court would give reasons for both rulings at a later date.
Attacking the convictions as ‘unsafe’, Hopkins’ solicitor, Ray Wigglesworth, said that one of the alleged victims had ‘lied in her evidence’ by claiming that she had not made a claim for compensation over her ordeal and “never intended to do so.” She later admitted starting a damages claim after she was confronted with a letter from her own solicitor to this effect, said the barrister.
Mr Wigglesworth claimed there had been a “massive trawling exercise” before the trial, in which the police placed newspaper advertisements “asking for former residents to come forward for interview.”
Officers were instructed to begin interviewing residents who came forward with “neutral” questions, but to ask direct questions “if nothing was forthcoming,” he claimed.
Mr Wigglesworth said there was evidence which “suggested collusion,” with the possibility that some “complainants” may have spent time together and compared notes between leaving Riverside and the start of Hopkins’ trial.
He also criticised the trial judge’s summing-up on the possibility of collusion.
The judges did not indicate when they would give their reasons for dismissing Hopkins’ conviction appeal and allowing his appeal against sentence.
Hopkins was caught after an investigation by Staffordshire Police into allegations of abuse at the Riverside Home during the 1980s.
Operation Thor was launched in 1999 and has since resulted in seven convictions.
The Riverside Home closed in 1989.



A PERVERT who sexually abused young boys at a children’s home near Burton and went on the run to avoid jail has been caged for four years.

Timothy O’ Farrell, 35, was sent to prison at Stafford Crown Court yesterday for a violent string of sexual attacks against fellow residents at a home two decades ago.
The 35-year-old, of Beaconsfield Road, Burton, was found guilty by a jury earlier this year but fled before being sentenced.
Pc Mick Hickebottom of Burton Police said: “It was after an appeal in the Mail that we had a series of calls which led to his arrest.”
O’Farrell was today beginning a four-year-jail sentence for three offences of serious sexual assault and five counts of indecent assault.
All the attacks took place at the Riverside children’s home in Rocester between 1982 and 1984 while O’ Farrell was a resident there.
A jury was told in January the defendant was the “king of the hill” at the home and used violence to enforce sex acts on younger boys.
Four of his victims, who are now all adults, gave evidence on the abuse they suffered at the hands of the pervert while he was 15 and 16.
The court heard each of the four boys were subjected to a series of sexual attacks by O’Farrell in the dormitory during the night.
Prosecutor Julie Mascur said the defendant carried out enforced oral sex and subjected fellow residents to bullying and abuse.
The defendant denied nine charges against the four boys but was convicted by the jury on eight counts.
O’ Farrell had claimed he never saw any bullying or sexual abuse at the home.
He was arrested after police launched a major probe into allegations of sexual abuse at children’s homes throughout Staffordshire.
Detective Chief Inspector Andy Dunning said: “Staffordshire Police is committed to investigating historic allegations of abuse occuring within Staffordshire. This conviction serves to reinforce that commitment and a determination to bring perpatrators to justice.
“I am particularly pleased for the victims who have borne the scars of these traumatic events for some considerable time.”

Deputy head found guilty of illegal caning


A FORMER deputy head of an East Staffordshire children’s home has been given a nine-month suspended prison sentence after being convicted of illegally caning and ill-treating a boy in his care.Thomas Watson (pictured), who worked at the Riverside home in Rocester, near Uttoxeter, during the 1980s, was found guilty by a jury at Stafford Crown Court of caning a boy who was wearing only a pair of shorts and deliberately pushing a table into the boy’s stomach.
Sentencing him to nine months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, Judge John Shand decribed Watson’s behaviour as “an abuse of disciplinary procedure” and “a disgraceful lack of control”.
Judge Shand said: “You had no reason to act as you did – you were in breach of your trust.”
The offences were committed during Watson’s time as deputy head of the Riverside children’s home nearly 20 years ago, when the boy was under 16.
The jury, however, cleared Watson of allegations made by eight other boys that he breached the regulations for corporal punishment which were in force at the time.
Watson, 57, of Meadow View, Burntwood, near Cannock, had denied a total of 13 charges – eight of child cruelty and five of assault causing actual bodily harm – involving nine boys altogether.
He was acquitted on 11 charges but convicted of two offences of child cruelty involving one boy.
Christopher Millington QC, defending, said: “He is not here to be sentenced as a man who ran a cruel and violent regime. He fell down badly in respect of one of the many thousands of youngsters he handled.”
He said even the victim had described Watson as “a nice guy”, though if he was wound up he could “go off like a bull in a china shop.”
Mr Millington said: “If he operated on a short fuse, it was under severe provocation.”
The court heard that Watson, a father of five, was a former factory manager before turning to child care work. He became housemaster at Riverside in 1977 and, after a short spell at the Chadswell home in Lichfield, returned to Riverside, where he was in charge of the observation unit then becoming deputy head.
The alleged offences dated back to the early 1980s, when corporal punishment was legal in children’s homes, provided it complied with strict regulations then in force.
The regulations permitted caning to be administered to boys only, applied over normal clothing and up to a maximum of six strokes. It was forbidden to cane children aged over 16.
The prosecution had alleged Watson had breached the regulations by forcing boys to remove their clothing or wear silk shorts and in some instances, by using a plimsoll which he nicknamed “Percy” to administer the punishment.
Watson had refuted the allegations, describing them as “rubbish”.

344 responses to “Riverside Children’s Home

  1. I was there in about 84 to 85 May be earlier . I don’t remember much as I was locked in my own world coming from an abusive foster home to that. I recognize some of your names when I have a photo of a group of us girls in there at the time. All I do remember is a sense of tense fear amongst many of us..There were classes I enjoyed and the cadets was fun too. The rest is gone from memory. Do I want that back??

  2. I lived at Riverside between 1976 and 1988,my mum and dad both worked there and we lived in the gardeners cottage. I have fond memories of the place, although it was quite a lonely upbringing.

    • Derek Williams (left in 83)

      I used to love the gardeners area and the veggie patch, i dont know why it was considered a punishment to get sent there to help clean up and do the weeding…..

      • Dennis Lovatt

        That’s so right Derck

      • donna zyg

        What was his name that did the veggie patch his head used to wobble
        And Mr Cliff did metal work ive still got scars from getting burnt in metal work some solder dropped into the side of my shoe remember getting in trouble coz i ran round the class without my shoe on omg i remember it all now up until this i guess i blocked it all out

      • Nicola Griffiths

        Totally agree, it’s just disaplin, look at the kids nowadays, running a muck no respect for there elders, and why cause, cause parents have no control, anything nowadays days is classed as abuse, it’s all gone crazy, I had the cane once, at a school I whent to before I whent riverside, and I probably deserved it lol 😁 it didn’t scar me, or mess my head up so a bit of gardening dosnt in my eyes class as a punishment, kids are bone today, when I was in river side they gave me a toothbrush to scrub the hall. I thought it was funny and did the kobe, when Mrs wood asked me if I minded I laughed and said no he’s quite nice 😁 haha and I’d do it all again, and I still think he was a good man and he was, all he was trying to do is instill a bit of disaplin good man, I think the boys were a bit wary of him cause they New he actually worked at a borstal before getting the job lol 😁 funny if they thought that was bad they would think my father a monster, and I still say I never saw or herd any violence, not in my time, iv not had a fantastic life cince I left riverside, but I’m alive I’m not on drugs, but I think maybe a lot whent that way, shame really, as for anyone who received compensation for rape 10.000pound is a piss take to be honest, aopsaluty disgusting, and the only thing I’m really angry about or was angry about is I had no GCSE, but that was downtown to my dad to for not letting me go school, we’ll what can you do with no GCSEs, your screwed really and no guidance, some kids are born lucky and some born unlucky, that about you make your own luck in life, no I don’t think so you nead luck to, I’m signing of now hope you all have a good future, be 🍀 lucky

      • Derek Williams

        Hi Nicola. Sorry to hear your life’s been hard, i think everyone who has ever been ‘in care’ has a harder life because we learnt at a very early age that adults can be twats and they lie to you. That’s not to say it’s all their fault I dont know about anyone else but I bunked off school loads in high school, i fought with teachers (Mr hardy you redheaded twat at Balfour).
        Riverside for me saved me from becoming a builder or farmer and I ended up travelling the world and seeing more than my parents have ever dreamed about, all that because of three riverside staff who cared enough to let me be me Mr Hatherly (Army Cadets) Mr Lance (House master) and Lastly but most importantly Mr Martin (Maths) these three and especially Mr Martin set me up for a good (by most standards) life.

        I was lucky I left a few months after the girls arrived because it all went tits up from that point, I’m not saying there was no abuse but up to that point everything was fine, yes we ran off (your supposed to do that as a kid) yes we fought amongst ourselves but thats what kids do. I saw the cells and heard the stories but they were just that stories.

        Best memory of the place was a Christmas when me and another lad (Bob Bowker maybe) got shit faced on Mr Lances red wine he brewed, we nicked one of the tubs and drank it dry under the Christmas tree, we were so drunk the staff gave us a roll in a snow drift to bring our temperatures down before we got a cold shower. I was ill for days and couldn’t drink red wine for years.

        I think we are all stronger for surviving the system and maybe some abuse occurred but I never saw it and knowing just how much teenagers lie I call caution on the whole situation, lets face it most of the accusers claimed compo……

        I know i will get flamed for this reply but not everyone had a bad time in riverside so suck it up and live your life dont let it be defined by a couple of years when you were a kid.

  3. I lived at Riverside between 1976 and 1988,my mum and dad both worked there and we lived in the gardeners cottage. I have fond memories of the place, although it was quite a lonely upbringing…

  4. I was dumped in there in 1973 I was accused of shoplifting at the time
    I was 13 at the time the shopkeeper phoned the police and they searched me
    And I had nothing stolen on me but police took me to the police station in Rugeley where we stayed at the time they phoned my father
    Who came to the police station and told them he could not cope
    With me I remember the police got in touch with a magistrate I think he was
    And in a small room at the police station I was going away for a few weeks

    I was then sent to a remand home in litchfield
    Think it was called the wissage or something like that
    After a few months I was then sent to the Werrington not sure if that’s how it is spelled and it was later changed to the Riverside I eventually got out on my 16th birthday 3 years of my life lost just because my father couldn’t cope
    I am still haunted by this experience also every Friday I got the cane
    Because I refused to eat liver at dinner as it made me feel sick just looking at it and still does to this day

  5. paul walker

    staffs police have opened a case again.

    • Sadie Farbrace

      Hi that’s interesting there is a lot of ex residents wanting to express their own concerns do u know who is heading the team within the police? Also word needs to put out there and give them a chance of getting it dealt with 😀😀

      • raymond fisher

        hi sadie ray fisher here was there 82 83 got the name of police officer its dc holland at lichfield police station ok.

    • raymond fisher

      the case is locksley hall not riverside.

  6. paul walker

    contact Napac

  7. Sadie Farbrace

    Hi that’s interesting there is a lot of ex residents wanting to express their own concerns do u know who is heading the team within the police? Also word needs to put out there and give them a chance of getting it dealt with 😀😀

  8. Hello to all you house Mates I was there from 82-86

    • Derek Williams

      Hi Wayne, I left shortly after you arrived, I hope life has been ok for you

    • donna zyg

      I was also there 81/86 i was Donna Zyg at the time

      • Sadie

        Hi Donna it’s Sadie I’m sure we ran away together and slept in the toilets at one point in Rochester and if my memory serves me right we help our self’s to some new shoes from Oliver’s shoe shop 😁😁

    • Nicola Griffiths

      Hi, this is Nicky Griffiths, don’t know if anyone remembers me, what I’m trying to establish, is there was 2men in there that were sexual predators, one use to give sigerets to the girls and had 2or 3of his own daughters, who was grooming me I think he lived in trent Vale, he took girls out with him at night to clubs and took me as well, Also there was another man who, use to bear the boys up on A and E OMG lol upstairs red hair hmmmm always with a shiny woman they were horrible, and I bet Mr ave is dead the Army cadets man, There was 2verynice women who were sisters in there blond hair, iv lost thatch with them now, arh Mrs Woods I think and miss mack lovely women, but I’m sure 2men try kiss me famished man Cury grey hair glasses I think some kind of teacher hmmmm Anyway that one that took us out was grooming a tall dark hair girl to and trying with me, shockng realy, and I wasn’t in there for being naughty at all I was only in there cause I ran away from a care home, and I was actually in care cause my father sexualy abused me, and to think 2men in there were trying to do the same, no Justice in this world, is there, the only God thing about that place was the kids Mrs wood and missing mack, and cadets, some staff have given other staff a bad name shame, if anyone wants to write my Email is Nickygriffiths@myself.com or if anyone remembers me. You can Email me,

  9. Anthony Ankers you can still see the glass windows if you come to the front of riverside walk up the drive a bit you can see it set of stairs on the roof.pindown was between the girl’s and O\A one room people will say it was in a cellar it wasn’t it was up high and out the way.

  10. Let’s see if any of you remember these names Rosie Gibson Rosie Marshall paddy Scanlon Wolfe Jason Brooks kev cookson dawn Brooks dave Newton Rob voydak Dave mothersole the Taylor brothers,Andy jebson andy Jepson,Rob ward aka toad dave chopoff wily Bradbury Mark salt ant hall Gideon henna Bentley sharon Hughes Mark Talbot.

    • Mark Mansell

      I remember Chris Taylor and key Cookson

      • Michael gallear

        Little Willy Bradbury. And Kev Cookson I remember those two. How about these names. Dring. Sniffer. Mark Boswell. Mick Hemings. Paul Davenhill. Vince Roerton. Dean powers. Danny Palmer. Mark Thacker. Messer. Dude.

      • raymond fisher

        high everybody i was there o nd a first then trajning with most of the names that monster offarell same dorm and yes he left me scarred and watson has the case been raopened i want to talk?

    • raymond fisher

      i remember them wasnt it john mothersole? what about the barber sisters linda grimes martin stafford mark dring happy new year everyone.

    • donna zyg

      I know them all

      • donna zyg

        Brian Sutherland
        Lisa Haley Lawrence Simpson Jenny Card
        Kerr can’t remember his first name though think it was Jason
        I remember them all ran away with Rose Marshall Jasin kerr Mel big friends with Rose one time slept in a shed in a field we got flashed at that time

      • Sadie

        Me too 👍

    • Nicola Griffiths

      Yes I can but a load of you have made bulls hit up like he a bentilee, he told me he’d lied. He’s dead now but a lie is a lie, a load of you exaggerated shit, beatings. If anything the ones that made all these aligaitions, we’re just muscling in on the compensation, and lieng, sad so sad, I was there, iv said nothing all this time, there was only 2blokes who were peavey, and just tried to give you a kiss no forcing, but as for kids getting g batterd, what a load of bullocks, God help you

    • Nicola Griffiths

      Henna is dead now so I heard, from or caused by drugs, he lied anyway about the abuse he told me, and I never forgot. He also asked me if I’m going to get some compensation. I carnt remember, exact words but something like you only have make stuff up, sad really I did like henna Bentley, but yes his true name was John Henry Bentley, can you emagin any one battering henna I don’t think so, just no chance at all, very sad really, so I remember getting the cain at an old school, for being naughty, but you don’t see me saying I had a table shoved in me and claiming all sorts of lies

    • Nicola Griffiths

      Dawn brooks was there just before me and left I remember Mrs Woods telling me about her think she was fond of her, and don’t you mean Fred salt, John Bentley is dead now he lived in stoke on trent he was a punk but went on to be a drug addicts joeseph mall is dead he was there to drugs. I remember Stephen Miller, and I think there was 2twins in there I sort of left then as training was getting a bit boring for me then. Well I ran off, but only cause I had a boyfriend, and a few people were coming into training and taking the living piss up of staff barracading doors up I heard so I’m glad I whent then cause I don’t want be part of that as I liked the staff and they were just trying make a name for themselves, sad really. Maybe they needed be somewhere else stricter

  11. Paul Davenhill

    Wow… not sure how I ended up on this page but it’s stirred up memories I never knew I had..like others I did not suffer any abuse of any kind..if I got the cane I deserved it so no complaints really..I have mostly good memories of Riverside and am still friends with some even to this day although I now live in the Philippines I still speak regular with some friends from them days..signing off..Prof!.

  12. Pete Greaves

    I was there in the mid 80s and saw and experienced what I see now as abuse. After DC and being used to getting battered I suppose I got harded to it.. There were some good staff Mrs Brown.. a Sharon maybe I think.. Bald headed guy? Cooper? I remember a lot of names off here.. Was in O&A and training.. Tough times for a lot of kids who were supposed to be ‘looked after’ I was lucky perhaps in that my family were there for me throughout despite the nightmare that I was.. In a way Riverside stopped me going YC in that I got a Care Order instead of more prison.. I really felt for the guys that had no one.. fostered and abused.. then labelled as problems.. I was pleased as Hopkins got done.. He was a sadistic twat and I was canned by him really slow an nasty.. He hit a lad with us in the face with a cane after we all came up before him late one night.. I saw kids punched and dragged around by the hair.. that seemed a favourite way to control.. I ran once from O&A away through the river and kept going to Stoke.. I remember one dude running off to Alton towers an I swear he had a broken leg!!! There were some laughs with crazy times but it was another Social Services disaster for most..

    Vodack Adi Binny Johnny Mothersole Dave Pearson Xanth Dawn Sam.. Loads more.. Aka Rodney!!

    • Andrew

      I was there twice for short periods around 82/early 83 with the first time from another place in Lichfield after it closed down.
      Placed into care simply because I refused to go to school because of bullying/anxiety & diagnosed only recently as probable ASPERGERS…
      What a sick country this is.

      Anyway, I witnessed plenty of bullying & violence by just a few “residents” at the top of the tree, or so they thought. They seemed to act with impunity & perhaps with the blessing of some of the staff? To be frank, IF I witnessed or experienced anything like it now, somebody would be going to the bone yard.

      My memory is a little sketchy but I do seem to remember MR Hopkins. Didn’t he wear thick framed glasses,lived on site & kept firearms?

  13. Shelly kirkham

    Hi I was there from 83 86 Some good and some very bad memories but hi to all who was there with me

  14. Hi peter .riverside was supposed to be a place of safety for us mixed up kids . And that’s all we were really but some of the staff they would weigh you up and work out if they could get away with abusing you (safely for them) and don’t forget they had your life on paper so they new how fucking mixed up you me were and that’s when they made a decision to attack . Fucking scumbags many got abused some will never tell .

  15. Andrew

    Hi Anthony,

    It’s exactly the same with medical records from GP’s, hospitals etc etc.
    They’ll rarely release anything that might incriminate themselves or their chums, though they do make mistakes & get caught out from time to time.

    The public services & the charity sector (3rd sector) are now so CORRUPT & filled with incompetent idiots that they’re not even worth spitting on.

    I’m down in Stafford now & again so might try that route to find out what they’ve got on me. The older I get the more inquisitive I become.

    Bye for now

  16. Nicola Griffiths

    It wasn’t a children’s home it was surest to be a secure unite for naughty kids. Get it naughty, exaggerate away, Their was some really naughty kids in there, is it normal to just think oh I know I’ll baracade the doors so all the staff carntwait get in, some kids do anything for attention, ad competition. I was never beat hit or threatened neither was the 16kids I was with upstairs, and down stairs, I think I saw one trouble maker trying make a name for himself, ad he got carted of but he was showing of and trying fight with staff, so yes the guy with the red hair took him away, but he was a violent kid, so it must of being hard to try to control that one, anyway I was there so when did these mistery beatings take place. Just makes me angry that so much exaggerated, bulls hit what about playing in the back garden playing volleyball all laughing with staff and joking, i remember John Henry Bentley saying to me that he’d lied bulls hit cause everyone is getting compensation, and asked me if I’m going do it, hope or anyone who lied can live with themselves. There was always 2staff present at same time I give up, I know the lies John Bentley told so how many more, you’ll need admit it. So who had a cane. Was it the invisable cane, did you make silent cries. Maybe somewhere some might of got heavy. Handed, and you’ve all taken it to fortieth will out one day goodbye

    • Andrew

      Hi Nicola,

      A minority of the “residents” there were clearly thugs & some of the girls VERY “streetwise” shall we say, BUT they seemed to get away with it okay, with the full blessing of the staff. That is, SOME of the staff looked the other way & so were JUST as guilty as the perpetrators.
      Been told that this is deliberate policy to keep some sort of order, which has also been seen in prisons & the armed forces etc etc. How perverted eh?

      Though I didn’t witness ANY direct physical or sexual abuse by staff for my two relatively short stays, there was some inappropriate words from a short fat “neckless” scouse c*** of a sexual nature. Which I thought at the time to be very odd, but didn’t react to. Best not to…just bide your time.

      It’s clear to me that some of the children I saw should NEVER have been placed there OR mixed with hardened criminals.

      • Hi Andrew I just read what you said ,you are extremely corect.thankyou .we all cannot be wrong can we.some people who claim to be residents are not on here.it went on and face it it dead,I like you did not see but my friend was raped, she is fucked up now . . 2 ,500 pound .she got and was told not to speak no more.they are utter scum,but government scum so that’s ok.

  17. Nicola Griffiths

    PS and all the staff were good to you spoke nice to you, treated you with respect. And some of these people who got compensation were drug addicts and wanted the money, so work it out. Not one kid who was in there was scared of the staff not one, especially the ones who say they were beat they were the trouble makers I was there 1984 and 1985 hmmmm it’s a mystery to me

  18. Nicola Griffiths

    PS and all the staff were good to you spoke nice to you, treated you with respect. And some of these people who got compensation were drug addicts and wanted the money, so work it out. Not one kid who was in there was scared of the staff not one, especially the ones who say they were beat they were the trouble makers I was there 1984 and 1985 hmmmm it’s a mystery to me.

  19. melvyn crabtree

    Hi all, just to bring you up to speed with Stafford County Council, for months now i have been trying to get hold of my records from the time i spent at Werrington 1967 to 1970, the council keep saying that they have no records about me from when i was there, Lie’s they are just saying this i think due to the scandal from the 80s, maybe thinking that i was going to make a claim, have others on here received there records, please let me know, regards to all, Melvyn

    • Derek Williams

      Melvyn I wouldn’t bother mate the council have ‘lost’ so many records it’s unreal. The Army have done the same thing regarding my time in service eventually you’ll be told the records are missing or destroyed in a fire, trust me I’ve tried to get my records and I openly admit I was never abused while in Riverside (Chadswell is another story)

    • Steve Walker

      I received my records but they include very little information from my stay 1970-72. However my memories are all fine from there although I was a bit of an ass. Staff were very supportive no negative instances from that time.

      • melvyn crabtree

        Hi Steve got mine well will have tomorrow, i leaft in July 1970 i was in Manifold house, number 69, spent the last 8 to 9 months in senior house. regards

    • Hi they won’t find anything when you were in there at that time Werrington came under the prison service that’s were your records will be hope this helps you

  20. melvyn crabtree

    Hi Derek, many thanks for the reply, and all the best.

    • melvyn crabtree

      Well i never, at 17.454pm today i had a call from Staffordshire County Council, they apologize for giving me false information regards to my records held from late 1967 to July 1970, they have now found them and will forward me a hard copy in the post and email the same tomorrow, i say thank you to Stafford County Council, cant wait to get them, thanks all for you support guys and gals. cheers from a happy Melvyn

  21. Nicola Griffiths

    I would just like to stick up for 99percent of the staff, someone said that the staff looked the other way, and implying. that if anything whent on the staff new about it. And looked the other way, which is a load of rubbish, I had 1 male staff member. That tried to kiss me make pass at me. There was no one else there no other staff looked the other way. And that wasn’t even in the grounds he got permission to take 2girls out at night to a club, like a working man’s club, he was very friendly, and other staff would never of suspected him, as he did seem like a nice man. But at the working man’s club outside on the car park he made a pass at me I was 15nearly 16″ so yes and I said no or pulled away, and nothing else was done. I didn’t feel threatened or scared, just a very stupid man who clearly had other idears, and the next day I told everyone. The other staff. And to be honest I got a bit of stick of the other kids for opening my mouth, he may have being sacked after that. So staff looking the other way noo. If I could go back there again and do it all over again I would, I even run off once, but I was just being stupid and was missing my boyfriend, I wanted the best of both worlds, I loved the staff, and I am a better person. I’d like to say thank you to Mr Ave for making us girls laugh on the asult course, and to all the lads that use to sit around with me while I played my Elvis records., up O and e unit upstairs, oh and thanks for all my love letters haha funny at night the staff use to bring us love letters and pass them on to us girls at night, they were so kind and nice Mrs Woods in particular and Mrs mack, and Mr Ave, thank you for the holiday you took us on to tanny Bryn. They didn’t nead to take us but the good ones if they, were good got taken on holiday, and we’ll I knew I’d be 1of them and I was. And when I whent down training which is down stairs, that was OK to. But just because 2 staff members out of all the other staff may have abused there position a bit. And I say a bit. Other than that grooming guy, ad only one heavy handed person, it’s not fair on the other staff and to say they looked the other way, cause that’s lies, obviously, they weren’t on duty at the time they would. Be at home, Anyway I’d like to say thank you to all the staff for making my stay fun and I will never forget them for as long as I live I love you all apart from 2, obviously I’m not effectide by the man that made a pass at me cause I told of him and I think they got rid after, or he got into trouble, so they did not look the other way at all. I wish I could. Go back there all over again, honestly it was the norm living there no screams like a happy. Family, and I was born in 1971 I was there at age 15 which is 1986 best years of my life, but I was abused by my father and beat up nearly every other week, so when I went there I was free of my dad, I didn’t have to worry about sleeping with my dad, so for me it was fantastic, I was treated very well, I was free of all abuse but when that man who was nice to us took us 2girls out on our own, as he got permission, he did try to make a pass at me but. It was a big mistake, cause Id only just informed social services about my farther abusing me, so yes I told the next day, very. Stupid man, I often though I wonder if he is trying it on with his daughter’s, because of my dad and him trying to kiss me, anyway. I’d still like to say I had a wonderful time, and the man who did try to kiss me was in fact a bit of a work. Answer as he was trying to get my mum to hmmmm strange. But, before. He tried. To kiss me you know. I thought. He was a nice man, what an idiot abusing his persition, it isn’t like we were week kids we were very strong willed. Or anything, the kids weren’t quite at all. Or timid anyway. I’d do it all again and I want that house, I’d give anything to go back in time, God Bless xx xx to all who I had the pleasure of knowing Thank you xx Hi to Mr grockot who I think I may have had a crush on a bit lol. Thank you for not abusing your position, and I think you were told by Mrs woods, you were the strick one, but I knew you weren’t really 😁 you made sure those shoes were shiny lol boys needed someone to be strict. Sorry terabl spelling no GCSEs at all lol I never ha any. But I have my memory’s,

    • melvyn crabtree

      Hi Nicola, just read your comments, i like you loved the place. and sometimes wanted to go back, i am the person i am now, and it was all down to the staff at Werrington, before Riverside, i used to visit with my wife and son an many occasions on Saturday and stop for tea, and we still visit nowaday, do you, even though its a complet mess empty, being from Derby its not to far, i hope now that you are living life to its full, amd enjoying yourself, but remembering all the happy times, i wish there could be a reunion of the school. any way all the best Melvyn.

      • Andrew

        Melvin, I don’t think that a “reunion” would be such a great idea, given the notoriety of the place & the level of peer bullying that went on, which I did witness regularly during early 80’s. There’d likely be “payback” time for any identified bullies or thugs, that seemed to run the place with impunity (same as the place in Lichfield). I certainly wouldn’t stand in the way…

        I’m not saying that during its entire history that it was always like this BUT the tolerated abuse (mainly physical) perpetrated by fellow inmates (or residents) on other inmates has been seen in a variety of institutions within the UK. It’s a systemic thing unfortunately.

      • melvyn crabtree

        Hi Andrew, yes i understand your comment and yes agree, but there is also a lot of people from late 60s to late 70s that where not physically or sexually abused, its such a shame that as it appears where, and i am sicked to hear of this, i just thought it a good idea that if so many ex pupils could meet up and discuss there time at Werrington and Riverside, this will never happen and i understand why, nice to chat with you Andrew, take care best regards Melvyn.

      • Nicola Griffiths

        I think a reunion is a good idea but at the place itself aww, if only, iv never been back and wanted to go so did some research, and found out it was a garden centre, then got exited, then got disappointed, straight after as it closed down I’m gutted

      • melvyn crabtree

        Hi again Nicola, yes you should have paid a visit i am sure you would have enjoyed it, like i said i have been many times over the years with family and another lad that was there when i was, i have taken many pictures over the said time, and i just love having a walk around the grounds, you should go, say when and i will be there to, if you want any photos i have quite a few that i can forward to you, in the mean time bast regards, so to ask where are you from, cheers melvyn

      • Andrew

        Hi Melvyn, sounds like you were there during an earlier era then. Perhaps a gentler time, maybe not.
        Nothing wrong with staff being strict, but some may have overstepped the mark & there almost definitely was a culture of looking the other way to peer bullying etc. Also it was hardly an appropriate place for truants who didn’t actually commit any crime but may have been bullied or had mental health or developmental disorders. A shameful indictment of post war Britain & wider afield.
        These abuse scandals still keep coming, especially in care homes for the elderly… even nhs hospitals., like STAFFORD for instance. The buggers responsible never prosecuted but moved sideways, probably to another notorious hospital near me.
        Thanks to the WWW people are waking up though & it’ll end in a bad way. Lots of very angry people that don’t quite know yet how to channel it to REAL change.
        Anyway, all the best.

        PS. This damn blog doesn’t seem to place the reply’s always in the right place. Must be the enemy trying to stifle debate/dissent.

      • melvyn crabtree

        Hi there Andrew andf many thanks for the teply and you comments, what about one day with Nicola, and whom ever any others meeting up at the old school, i am from Derby not sure about you and Nicola, would be nice, Nicola stated that she would like to visit, if not to far i could pick up, will talk soon, cheers Andrew.

      • Nicola Griffiths

        Thank you Mervyn and God bless you

    • Andrew

      Were you the girl with the shortish curly dark hair, that hung out with Tracy Burton?

      • Nicola Griffiths

        Hi, no I don’t think so, there wasn’t many girls I liked in there at all, i seamed to have mostly lad friends, and just a couple of girls I liked I think Joanne was her name. And also I use to change my hair quite often, I did have short hair but I may have had it shaved at the sides, I was reading may have seamed quite, when I whent down to training, but I was just waying things up, down there with a couple. Of the girls I didn’t like, I may have been I don’t know, there was Nicola cumbersome, she had short hair to. I was in there when Stephen Miller was there shain manning Debbie mcall Stephen falkener, saidy price and loads f other but I just carnt remember the names at all carnt even remember that staff guy who try kiss me, I was a little bit punky in appearance. I’m terrible at names

      • Nicola Griffiths

        No I had brown hair, there was a girl with curly black hare she was alway with the pervert, the girls I’m referring to didn’t have really short black hair sort of shoulder length I think or like a short bob but she had curly black hair, she was the very quiet one, a bit to quit if you ask me hmmmm always thought there was something going o. There call it a gut feeling after he try. Kiss me lol he got sacked I’m sure, anyway no, but sometimes I had blond hair to so who nos, I had some of a punch apearenc at that time maybe my hair may of being shaved at the sides I carnt remember but it would be short, has anyone. Got any photos, please, I was there when I was 15 so that’s 1986. But I carnt remember. Having photos taken at all. Maybe when I when on holiday cause I was staffs favorite 😁. Bit only 4 of us whent, many cave was in there then couldn’t stand the girl, horrible girl grrrrrtrrrrr Stephen falkner he liked elvis and all the others up o and a, but I did go down to training, I remember playing sports day runners to down tri ING and this lad hit the ball right in my bust, it killed I swear he feature my rib but I ha to fake it cause I was in so much pain ad embarrassed, crazy and I should of got that trophy 🏆 to the was wrong g but they are it t done girl cause she was leaving. And everyone said I should of got it cause I won most of the games, I’m sure her name was mandybig girl, actually there wasn’t very many nice girls really down training,, anyway I’d be grateful if anyone has any photos from that time or even the building or staff. Or anything, much appreciated, think everyone is in bed as it is 140in the morning still, think I will read some more, nice hearing and reading these posts,. Till the next time Nicky

      • Linda Durkin

        Andrew were you there in 83. That’s when I was there. I had short dark hair but only after I shaved it all off from very long waist length. There was a few girls short dark curly hair. Teresa was one name I remember I won’t add their surnames. I remember Tim o’farrel he was there when I was.came across so nice. . Evil has many guises tho eh .

      • Andrew

        Hi Linda Durkin,

        Sorry for delay in reply.

        Mid 82 at Lichfield, then moved to this place for around a few months, then early 83 for a couple of weeks on the other side ONLY. All very strange & shambolic looking back…& a bit of a blur.
        The girl I was referring to was pretty cute, but I was so shy & she was a close associate of Tracey Burton, which I recall from Rising Brook Secondary – Stafford – hope that clarifies.
        Don’t recall anyone by the name of “O’Farrell”, while I was there, but on looking back at this scandal, learned about this PERVERT.
        Peer bullying seemed to be a bigger problem there…like all these institutions.

    • melvyn crabtree

      Hi Nicola i have asked Andrew if you would like to meet up one day at the school, what about you and others, might be a good idea, cheers melvyn

      • Andrew

        Hi Melvyn,

        Many thanks for your offer of a tour but I don’t see any point really given that it was not a great experience for me, though there were a few laughs there too.
        Hasn’t it been demolished anyway? That’s what they usually do, when a buildings main purpose was scandalised. I’d rather see perpetrators lawfully executed rather than a prestigious building being flattened. So many things upside down in the UK, with perps being called victims & vice versa etc.
        Have you had a response from Nicola yet? You’ve also got to bear in mid that not everyone who posts on here is necessarily sincere or who they say they are.
        PERPS from then will often play games with their victims…till they get caught out.

        Anyway, take care & I’ll keep an eye on this thread, posting now & again.

      • Mel Crabtree

        Hi Andrew, many thanks for the reply, I have not heard from Nicola yet, maybe she is not bothered. Take care regards Melvyn

  22. Andrew

    Hi Nicola,
    As I said in an earlier post, I was there from around mid 82 to around April 83, but on two separate occasions, if that makes any sense, as the swines (social services) clearly didn’t know WHAT to do with me, having just refused to go to school! The ONLY reason I was there in the first place!

    I’ve got a feeling that you may have been around at the same time as me. But I kept to myself, by & large…I didn’t & still don’t find it easy to mix.

    You mentioned something about “Elvis” records, which I seem to remember Tracy Burton also being a fan of.
    Gosh, wonder what they all look like now & of course, became of them…

    If you’d like to meet up for a coffee sometime, that would be fine, so we could chat about WHAT it was all about? I’m STILL at a loss…

  23. Nicola Griffiths

    OK this is to someone or whoever thinks that, some people on hear are not genuine, so OK then we’ll, Mr Ave was the man who did the cadets he lived with his wife at the house at the top of the driveway, there is a river at the back off the house, lol, the class rooms were huts outside but at the back, there is a little office when walking in the front to the left just as you walk in 😁 lol I only played my records in upstairs, in the small room at the front, downstairs is massive, and Mr grocot I think was his name all ways use make sure the boys had shined there shoes, I remember a lad in there I’m not mentioning no names who just never blew his nose, strange you to just let it all hang, strange, begins with a g 😁 anyway when I was there I didn’t see any violence as iv said before, and even if I saw some one get caned which I didn’t I would not call that abuse. I’m sorry but, I just wouldn’t the world has gone mad, I’m not saying that what may or may have happened before I was there or after, all I’m saying is I ain’t fake I was there when I said I was, there isn’t children, berried there no murders., and some dam good memories, there are so many trying to get a claim in and I bet there was only 1 or 2genuin cases of sexual abuse, maybe anyway the kids would of told staff to fuck off lol so I just know that, so it’s just the money as henna said to me have you heard about the riverside thing I said no, then he said to me are you putting in a claim, I said no, then he said all you have to do is lie, it infuriatis me honestly, how some people believe everything and everyone,

  24. Nicola Griffiths

    And I would. Love to visit that house again,, but just at the moment I’m having some major life changes, listen some kids do make things up you know, some do it for attention, some for money. I know from experience, I could never do anything like that but I know 2or 3that have, crazy, anyway I’m genuin, my farther is in prison for 14years for what he did to me, Google name if you like jeffory. Griffiths of ridgeway Road Shelton, or you could just put jeffory griffiths rapist man with bald head, But see him, he got what he deserved, and that place was like a holiday camp to me, iv got no nead tell lies, and I was there in my time I did not see anyone hit beaten, staff were very nice and the strict ones were nice to they were only acting 😁 there was 2staff that were trying to groom, when I say grooming I mean likebeang overly friendly asking to take girl out of that place and attempting to kiss you on lips, he probably soon got sacked after so how is that looking the other way, we’ll have a good day, will write back soon 😁 carnt help myself

  25. Nicola Griffiths

    Psi did not have curly hair, but I know who you mean I’m sure no I wasn’t that quite, sorry iv not done this or replied to the right person but, iv not got enough time, I’m dying for a cup tea lol 😁

  26. Linda Durkin

    I was there 83/84. Was always absconding. Id leave 2pm monday n return following monday early morning in time for a damn good telling off. a bath change of clothes and a fish chips mushy peas lunch. And a cig. Down into the little hall room by the chapel downstairs. Depending on your age depended how many cigs aday you were allowed. I was allowed 3 lol . Then come to approx 1.55pm n depending which staff were on duty theyd say linda almost 2oclock are you going… off id go..this was towards the end of my stay there. I was a bit wild but thats only due to the way was treated. Majority of staff brilliant. A few were awful. I refused to give statement or claim compo. No amount of money can compensate or bring my innocence of being a child back. Locked memories and thoughts away in my head throwing away the imaginary key. Why would I want to stir it all up again. My life has been a train wreck. Thx staffs social services.

    • Ian woodcock

      Hi guys I’ve stumbled across this blog page.I was there from 81-84 any1 there from that time would prob remember me as splinter..Sory to hearA lot of u havnt had the best time since leaving there but I reckon that’s down to social services they didn’t seem to do much for kids in those days!!! I was glad to hear that bullyboy Tim O’Farrell got what he deserved the pervert…hi Linda I remember Ur name but can’t put a face to u.

    • Hi I was in Werrington it was called that in the 70s then changed to Riverside later on. Anyway if you can not find your files it does not come under Social Services If you were in Riverside back in them days your records will be with the prison service Correction centres approved school came under this remit hope this helps you

  27. Stafford Mayer

    Hi too was in Werrington pre Riverside…. Oh you poor souls how you must have suffered under this secret regime of no different than SS Guards, many of whom escaped from Germany to take up residence in North Staffs.
    I live the nightmare of this place over and over again as I was cained till I bled, put up against a wall and used as a goal post,,, Skermer, John Glynn, Mr Bean, Nodder, Mrs And Mr Clissold. They all collectively helped to fuck my head up…
    Im now 67 but still remember young brotherstone losing his life in the Dove, fear of capture and Skermers punishment…

    • stafford mayer

      Angels do not let these people and your past ruin your lives…. We survived millions of Jews didnt as those running the homes and approved schools were nothing more than nazis in disguise… and in that era staffordshire loved nazism so it appears…

  28. Dennis Lovatt

    I was in Werrington & had the cane & was in Dove house & just met up with a lad I was in there with name Martin Campbell

  29. stafford mayer

    I did a runner from Werrington 3 times. The last time I was away for a week, living in a shed and living off the land ie apples, turnips, carrots from farmers fields. I dared not go home but found a vantage point where I could observe my mum, dad and brothers without being detected. My crime was taking scrap wood,nails, and some felt from a building site, all to build a tree hut up the woods….
    Today if I pinch a car and go on a high speed police chase I wouldnt undergo such a penalty as what I did at Werrington….
    A week of peeling spuds in icy water, in a cold shed, millions of them. Picking sprouts in winter till my fingers became blue. Forced to take a bucket and collect stones from the top wood. I suppose these punishments were better than going to the gas chamber, but looking at history there was a comparison…..
    I really suffered when I did a runner before xmas and skermer said I had my xmas holiday and was the only one there over xmas. Really went down well with Mr Buckingham etc and Mr Bean the sadist. Tash ( John Glynne) was a paedo as he used to touch my mates bum…..

    I could write a book….. These times still trouble me today but I suppress them as those who followed unbeknown to myself were to suffer worse mentally. I should have burnt this house of evil to the ground, sufferered the consequences, but had a clear conscience…..

    I once bumped into Clissold in Newcastle when I was 18, I was with a friend who had also served at Werrington for truancy…. We would have hospitalised him but unfortunately he ran off…….

    • Dennis Lovatt

      Yes I know how you feel same has you abuse against us physical & emotional abuse was shocking it was a boot camp when we were there it was a lot harder in our time before they changed it to Riverside

  30. stafford mayer

    We have to live with or demons. I too was in Dove house from 1964-1968, tash being the house master. Strange how so many names of our abusers are readily recalled but not our peers. I recall some names but not all, those in my dormitory, and some of the bullies, but thats all…. Hope you had a good xmas… I lost my wife 8 years ago and she helped me cope with my demons. I now just think society deserves what it advercates….

  31. jazware9@gmail.com

    I read the court case on both you and your father. How a female barrister could offer anything in defence mitigation is beyond belief. Probably remorse, but perverts only offer such as a plea bargain. I believe if he ever comes up for parole a good case of blocking such is to state that if he gets released early you will kill him. I believe under English law the Home Secretary has the power to intervene if the general public safety or stops someone from committing a crime by such a release is apparent, but you must google such to gain its full interpretation….. I wish you well Nicola….

    • Derek Williams

      Seriously tell the law you will kill him? You obviously want to spend time behind bars as well with shite advice like that.
      Idiotic reply to say the least.

  32. stafford mayer

    MMMMmm it was a bit extreme I admit as I was speaking from my own perspective under such circumstances if it had been a daughter of mine, yes I would gladly forefeit my freedom, an eye for an eye etc…
    I dont advocate that Nicola did such a thing, although any abused child feels like revenge on the perpertrator…..
    Having read the following guideline on parole because the perv received a fixed tariff I dont think parole would be a consideration….

    This guidance applies to parole decisions made on or after 22 July 2019.

    The Parole Board considers certain offenders for parole (release on licence) based on their risk of harm to the public.

    If the Parole Board decides it is safe to release an offender the decision is provisional for 21 calendar days. During this time the decision can be challenged if someone believes either:

    the correct process was not followed in the review of the offender for parole – for example, important evidence was not taken into account,the decision was irrational or unreasonable – the decision cannot be justified based on the evidence of risk that was considered

    However, the Parole Board considers cases carefully so it will be unusual for a decision to change.
    If a parole decision is not challenged within 21 calendar days it becomes final and the offender must be released.

    This guidance applies to all sentence types where the Parole Board considers release. It does not apply to standard determinate sentences – sentences of a fixed length where the offender is automatically released on licence at the halfway point.

    Routine decision checks
    The Secretary of State (responsible for justice) has a Reconsideration Team that checks all provisional parole decisions.

    If there are grounds (relevant reasons) they will ask the Parole Board to reconsider the decision. If the Parole Board accepts this request the case will be looked at again and there could be a new hearing.

    The UBER taxi driver didnt get his parole after intervention of the Home Office Ha Ha justice prevailed on that day…..

  33. Russell

    Hi, i have looked at articles regarding riverside recently out of curiosity. i was there for 3 years, 83-86. I knew about former residents suing and the scandals that went on. During my time there i sucked it up, mr hatherley was an outstanding man, his german wife was also a good person. He often used to let me and my mate dave bailey up to his house at the top of the drive.

    Ive seen so many names i recognise, scanlon, gideon, rose marshall, rose gibson, xanthe storey, dawn brooks, keith binnie, lawrence (only non white kid) jon mothersole (died of heroin od). I had no interest in making complaints after i left, i took it all as life experiences and wasnt going to let it ruin the rest of my life. I was punched a good few times by pete hopkins and grocott, got shut in the window seats, caned on bare skin. As for bullying from other kids, i was tested to see if i was a victim in my first few days by other lads, as soon as it was shown that i fight back it stopped. i beat a few kids, but like others have said… thats a kids thing, you are never going to get on with everyone. i had some bad times, but i also had some great times. off the top of my head i absconded 8 or 9 times, fun times!

    I left in 86 and went on to join the army in 87, came top in my training platoons class and had a career in the military that i loved. i can thank 2 people in my life for preparing me and showing me how to be a good person in the future…. they are mr hatherly and mr lance.

    i know that some kids had it bad, i was in rotherwood before riverside, that place was shitsville, staff and kids were beyond anything id seen before. anyway im not sure why im even writing this, i guess just seeing all the names and bringing memories back.

    Anyway, my name was russell, mates with dave bailey and keith binnie. i was in all thje training houses, dove, churnet…seniors i think the last house was called (correct me if im wrong).

    • ianbranks

      Hi Russell
      I totally agree with Ur comments.i like u was also in rotherwood in Stafford with John mothersole b4 being sent to chadswell and then on to riverside.u must of been in Riverside the same time as me I was there from late 81 or early 82 until just b4 my 15th birthday in 84 I recognise quite a good few of the names mentioned in the blog but I’m sure there’s names there that I just don’t remember..b4 I ran away in 84 in my dorm was Tim offarell (beast) Paul O’Toole his nickname was jamec and another guy from Burton Andy taylor(good lad).it was good to hear that u made a life for urself after Riverside I don’t think 2 many kids from that era would of done much with there lives..1 of my funniest memories of Riverside was the night I robbed a master key and me paddy scanlon Steve Jones and Marc thacker ran away and came back to rob the Housemasters but the staff were waiting for us so that was 6 ov the best from Mr goldie lol.it would be good to hear from people who were there at the same time as us just to see how life panned out for them.

      • Derek Williams

        Ian sounds like we did the circuit at about the same time, In 1981 I started in The kids home in Stafford (At the back on King Edward the VI high school), then on to Chadswell where I got six of the best for doing a runner (as far as the cathedral lol) Then onto Riverside, where I had a ok time after Mr Hatherley got me in the cadets and Mr Martin got me into hill walking, I was in Mr Lances house (got plastered on his red wine once) The only name I remember is Rob Bowker (bob) who was doing fine for himself last time i caught up with him.
        As to us from that era having a life I’ve travelled around the globe both in the military and as a civi, had my own business in Australia, earned and spent stupid ammounts of money on stupid things and dont regret a thing, I think we are stronger because of the care system and not victims of it, Most (almost all) of the kids I was at King Edwards and Balfour with are either in prison or dead, almost none of them travelled or even left the uk.
        I left Riverside in mid 83 and was in the Army a few months later all because of three good staff members, Mr Lance, Mr Hatherly and Mr Martin all top blokes in my book.
        I hope life has been good for you and that you dont let shit like being in care define who you are.

  34. ianbranks

    At the time I was in Riverside I was Ian woodcock or splinter to those who remember me as u can see from my last post its listed as Ian branks.

  35. Juddergirl

    I was also at this place in 1986 1st in observation and assessment, then left then got sent back indefinitely, as no one ever told you was happening. I escaped once during a riot. Like some I was curious and googled and found this article, iwas just going through part of my file (parts missing) to see it on Google earth as I remember the place to be very big. I still remember a few names of people who were there. It’s still a haunting place to me. I think your all very brave to leave comments. I sincerely hope you have all found some peace, love and respect. All the things they said I would never achieve I did, but most of all it made me a great mother. I still feel a sense of shame and anger, as you were never heard or asked anything relating to our care. It still annoys me how children are still failed in care.

  36. ianbranks

    Hi Derek
    Yes mate we must have been there at the same time and I agree with u about Mr Lance and Mr av had a great time with him in the cadetts! I kinda lost my way in the mid 80s but then turned my life around I now live in Belfast have my own house and brill job at the docs!!! I would ov knocked around with Dixie (David Dean) we willy Bradbury and I use to go out with a girl called Shelly who Martin Adams from the cadetts had a crush on lol.riverside changed big time towards the end of 83 it was just full ov bully dickheads or all the Burton boys. I just kept running away and 4 days b4 my 15th I was caught in Stafford and they were about to take me back and I told them I would just run again so they kept me on Stafford police station and then on Mon 26th march 84 I was remanded in Shrewsbury prison and that was my 15th birthday.nut I don’t hold any grudges I learnt to just get on with it.
    I took my wife and another guy who was there at the same time Andy Oakley u call him and found it was now a garden centre but we just walked about and the swimming pool was still there and the old hanger was also there it was strange to go back but worth a look

    • Derek Williams

      Hi Ian,
      I remember the names of Dixie Dean and Willy (I thought it was billy) Bradbury but I have almost no actual memories from that time other than getting drunk under the christmas tree on mr lances red wine and some of the walks we did with Mr Martin around derbyshire. I have done and seen some stuff since then that has blocked my memories and yet some names pop up as known, I remember Rob Bowker as he was one of a very few people I can remember speaking with (I was pretty much a loner) There was a guy with a guitar who was teaching me how to play that i remember by the swimming pool. Did you ever go on the camping trip to north wales? I went twice but again only have snippets of memory.

      I went back 20 years ago with my wife and walked around the grounds, we couldn’t get into the house as it was being refurbished which was a shame, I did go around the old assault course though.

      A lots changed for all of us who survived the years following Riverside.
      I now Shrewsbury prison as the army couldn’t keep hold of me so i was shipped around to stop me going AWOL while they decided what to do with me and my colleagues (long and VERY boring story)

      I often wonder what happened to Mr Hatherly, Lance and Martin i hope they weren’t caught up in all that crap that went down, I wont for a minuet believe that they were involved.

  37. ianbranks

    Hi Derek
    I remember quite a lot from back then most of the names on this blog post.i didn’t go to Wales but remember going with the cadets to Sherwood forest I think there was a swimming gala on and we were in the kitchen.i doubt the staff mentioned was caught up the scandal I’ve not heard jack Goldie’s name mentioned and he was the headmaster!the more I think back about Riverside it done me a big favour in life although it didn’t seem like it at the time but there was kids in there worse off than me as I went on to do ok in life where as I’ve heard a lot of the kids died of drugs or went on to a total life of crime the last time I seen willy Bradbury he was expecting 10 years for robbery and Dixie was busy firing needles into his arm.what year were u in rotherwood?I was there in 81 I removed going to a school in Stafford called chetwind middle school but for reasons I don’t recall ended up in chadswell but only for a few weeks wether that was because it was closing or not I don’t rember.

    • Derek Williams

      Hi Ian,
      Sorry to hear about Dixie and Willy life sucks sometimes.
      I was at Chetwynd Middle around 79/80, did you ever meet Mrs Leet? (she married a year head the same year I left) she was the music teacher (and very cute) I went on to King Edwards then balfour high schools. I was put into care by a family member to teach me a lesson for six weeks. The first girl I ever asked out was in there lmao the things you learn in care…
      I ended up putting myself in care after being sent back ‘home’ much to the confusion of the probation service. While at Chadswell I remember a girl of about 12 who had been pimped out by her family and some of the stories she told us in the rec room (under the pool table if memory serves) were horrific (I think her name may have been susan) she was small and very pretty. I left Riverside in spring of 83 where I had completed my Army application and was called up six months later for training, Sgt Hatherly put in a good word for me and I was accepted into the Infantry.
      I think overall the whole experience gave me the strength to go and do what I did, after all I was the only one of my training division to escape from an SAS search team during training (I learnt a very good lesson running away from riverside lol). The whole experience left me with a definite view about authority and how to screw with it which i have done over the years.

  38. ianbranks

    Hi Derek
    I was in rotherwood around 80/81 which is when I went to chetwynd I wasn’t there for long and the only 2 people from the school I rember was girls called Toni Averill and Paula curry and I only remember mr Watson from chadswell.were u from Stafford cause I was from Stoke.

    • Derek Williams

      Hi Ian,
      I am originally from Stafford but have travelled a lot over the years and ended up with an Aussie accent when drunk much to the amusement of my family

      • ianbranks

        Hi Derek
        It’s good to hear u got to see a bit of the world as did I as I was a pro dart player for a few years and managed to get a couple of TV appearances so that was just another part of a crazy life lol.do u remember a member of staff from rotherwood who was a Scottish guy I just can’t think of his name but wouldn’t be surprised if he was done for some kind of abuse toward kids.he tried to get me to scrub a kitchen floor with a toothbrush when I was there and I told him to fuck off and we started fighting I think that was the reason for me getting put into chadswell.

  39. R

    I remember you woody tim offarell i suferd john mothersole jonesy i saw tbe perv do his dirty stuff bsttd.

    • ianbranks

      Yes mate he was a pervy bully alright I believe he got what was coming to him..u didn’t leave Ur name bud so I don’t no if I remember u??

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