I rarely make public announcements unless I have something special to say. This is one of those occasions:
Since I launched my Forces Manor project I was never 100 percent sure just how it would be funded, but things have now become much clearer and, since Forces Manor was established as a not-for-profit organisation, it is important that things are transparent. are. Some who know me will be aware that I was brought up in a children’s home from the age of seven months, having been dumped as baby in a south London hospital.
What even they don’t know is that my childhood was lost and I only got out when I escaped and joined the army aged 16.
The home where I lived, Shirley Oaks, was run by the uncaring, corrupt and incompetent Lambeth Council who, through no choice of mine, became my legal parents.
In recent years the lid has been blown off the place, to expose a horror catalogue of epic portions. Lambeth has now been shown to be a scandalous council of shame for the appalling level of neglect and abuse inflicted on so many of us. It ruined my childhood and that of 400 others hidden away with me in Europe’s largest children’s home, stretching fully two miles. Hundreds of us, parentless, without families, were housed in 52 separate bleak and menacing homes dotted around fields and woods. It was hell for so many of us who suffered abuse of every kind, real, intense, perpetual - a nightmare without waking.
The fact is I have been awarded compensation for a destroyed child hood and I can’t think of a better way to use the money than to donate it to Forces Manor, a place for members of the forces, veterans and children in care. Having started life with nothing, I don’t need anything now. I rather give the money away so it can be spent on something special, something important.
The compensation which is in six figures relates to my time as a child in care.
When a child screams out at night it’s normal for aparentto comfort them as they return to wakefulness, but when I called out in the darkness the nightmare just continued. Being ignored by the cruel staff, left cowering in a pool of tears beneath those ghostly white sheets made those childhood night terrors all too real.
So many times I emerged from my terrifying mind trips only to face again the abuse which had plunged me into them.
But I survived. I found a family when, as a Junior Soldierthe Army welcomed me on my escape from the care system. Now I feel so proud to be in the position to give something back. The Army saved my life, gave me a life, gave me a home. Now I can repay it - Thank you the ‘British Army’
Forces Manor is for all members of our armed services and veterans and will offer a special Highland retreat too for vulnerable children in care. And it will happen in the building which once welcomed me with open arms when as a lost 12-year-old, alone,I was able to briefly break freefrom the oppression and head north although I had to return.
I was destined to stay in touch with the kind Highland family who welcomed me for that turning point in my life, so much that I still live in the very building which I am giving over to the project.I know that it is the perfect place and the perfect time to establish Forces Manor.
It is time now to get on with the development and although there is still a lot to do, withplanning permission nowlodged we are on the march now.
I will shortly be publishing a unique book detailing my life in care, through cadets and into the Army. The hardback with over 200 images is time-lined with music and contains live sounds and video, with all the profits going to vulnerable soldiers and children in care.
I rarely make public announcements unless I have something special to say. This is one of those occa