Woman abused in church-run home returns to where she was 'truly happy'

A victim of historic child abuse at a Catholic Church children's home is to make an emotional return to her hometown in a bid to trace her long lost family.

Kate Walmsley, 60, was seven years old when she was taken from her home in Glasgow and placed in the care of the Sisters of Nazareth in Derry, Northern Ireland, following the break-up of her parents' marriage.

While there she was regularly sexually assaulted by a priest and beaten by the nuns.

After more than five decades away from home Ms Walmsley is to make her first trip back to Scotland on Wednesday where she hopes to trace some family members.

"I have always wanted to go back to the place where I remember being happy, before all the abuse. I finally feel it is time," said Ms Walmsley.

"I just want to stand on the street I used to live with my parents. I have so many happy memories of there.

"Even still, when I close my eyes, I can feel my mummy's hand holding mine walking me to school.

"That is the last time I remember being truly happy."

Ms Walmsley said from around the age of three to seven she lived on Garscube Road in Glasgow and some of her relatives owned a fruit and vegetable shop on the corner.

Following the break-up of her parents' relationship her father took her to Northern Ireland and placed her in Nazareth Lodge in Derry.

"I am both excited and anxious about going back to Scotland. I just want to stand where I was when I was happy with my mummy.

"The memories are very special to me.

"I feel like I was stripped of my identity after I was put in Nazareth House in Derry.

"I just want to have a sense of belonging and I am hoping that going back to Glasgow to try and find my family will give me that," she said.

Before travelling to Glasgow Ms Walmsley and Margaret McGuckin, of the campaign group Survivors & Victims of Institutional Abuse (Savia), are to join other victims at a vigil in Edinburgh on the opening day of the Scottish child abuse inquiry.

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry was set up on October 1 2015 and public hearings are to begin on Wednesday.

The Northern Ireland Child Abuse Inquiry found children's homes run by some churches, charities and state institutions in Northern Ireland were the scene of widespread abuse and mistreatment of young residents.

Ms Walmsley, who gave evidence to the Northern Ireland inquiry, said she wanted to encourage victims in Scotland to come forward and have their voices heard.

"Before the inquiry in Northern Ireland, I thought I would bring all that I went through to the grave.

"But I now have peace within because I was able to talk about it.

"Before the inquiry I was giving up on my life.

"I just didn't want to go on.

"It was very hard and emotional taking part in the inquiry, but the support of Savia and all the other victims helped me through.

"I feel I am now an open book," said Ms Walmsley

Ms McGuckin added: "We have been through the inquiry process and can give advice.

"Y ou can free yourself by putting it back on the shoulders of those who perpetrated the abuse.

"You have to go back to come forward. I would encourage all survivors to come forward."


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