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Say sorry for 'years of abuse'

By Eitan Grant, Gazette Group, 15/12/2004

A PENSIONER is calling on Scotland's biggest children's charity to "own up" to decades of child abuse.

Elizabeth McWilliams, 67, claims she suffered 16 years of emotional and sexual abuse while growing up in Quarriers Village.

She was moved to tears last week as First Minister Jack McConnell apologised on behalf of the Scottish people for the abuse perpetrated on children at the hands of "care workers".

But the granny-of-four is now demanding that bosses at the Bridge of Weir-based charity make a full unconditional public apology to her and all the children who suffered.

She said: "If Jack McConnell can stand up and make a public apology then why can't Quarriers come clean and do the same?

"These people need to own up and say sorry for all the terrible things done supposedly in their name.

"They can't just gloss over it like nothing happened." Elizabeth claims that while she was a little girl at the home she was separated from her twin brother and emotionally and sexually abused.

The widow added: "I was put into the home with my brother Archie when we were only 17-montbs-old but I wasn't told about him until I was 12."

She also recalls how she was forced to eat from a bucket of pigswill and endure other punishments like being made to strip and take freezing cold showers.

Elizabeth made an emotional trip to the Scottish Parliament to hear Mr McConnell apologise first hand, and is now pleading for the whole truth to come out about Quarriers.

She said: "When I heard that apology I was moved to tears.

"It unlocked decades of self-doubt about my childhood.

Painful

"For years I had to live with the resounding echoes of 'liar liar,' but now at long last I can hold my head up high and say what happened to me and to my friends because now people have listened to the painful truth."

There has been a string of convictions for abuse over the last few years of former "house parents" who use to work at the village retreat.

A spokeswoman for Quarriers, which stopped running children's homes in the 1970s, said: "We have co-operated fully with Parliament and provided a statement.

"We are a different organisation now and there are stringent child protection procedures in place.

"Our sympathies always lie with the victims. If any individual suffered abuse at Quarriers then we apologise."

 
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