Sisters at Catholic Orphanage Force-fed Residents, Child Abuse Inquiry Hears
By Colin McNeill
December 11, 2017
|The former Smyllum Park Orphanage|
A former resident of a Catholic orphanage has told an inquiry how she was severely punished for wetting the bed.
June Smith, who waived her right to anonymity, said she had moved in to Smyllum Park in Lanark, South Lanarkshire, in 1969 when she was about three or four.
She told the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry in Edinburgh that she persistently wet the bed until she was 15, which saw her severely punished by staff and nuns.
Ms Smith, who left the home in 1981, added: "(One of the sisters) would come in the morning, pull you out of bed and put you in a cold bath.
"Sometimes she would throw disinfectant over you and put her knuckles right into your head, that was sore - really sore."
She added that children who wet their beds were made to carry their sheets up a hill so everybody knew what had happened, which meant they would be bullied.
Ms Smith also told how, from the age of six, she was woken up during the night and made to take tablets to stop bedwetting.
She added: "I (still) wake up every night. When I get to sleep I'm alright until 2am, then that's me until 6am or 7am."
In a statement she had previously submitted she said she was taking part in the inquiry so other children in care do not suffer similar experiences.
She added her later years were better as the nuns in charge were "nice".
Another witness told how his time at Smyllum, which was run by the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, means he avoids certain meals with his family.
He was moved to the home in 1974, aged around eight years old, and left in 1981 but said his time there still impacts his life.
Punishments included being beaten with "Jesus slippers" and being locked in a dark room, he told the inquiry.
The witness said: "What was put in front of you, you had to eat, we were getting force-fed.
"The sister would come behind you, hold your nose and ram it down you.
"It was as if they knew what food you didn't like. I'm not saying they enjoyed (doing) it.
"When my partner cooks, she will make macaroni, lasagna or pasta. The smell... I just have to get away from it.
"If her and my daughter are sitting there eating custard, I can't go anywhere near.
"Just from the force feeding, I can't be near the smell of the stuff."
The witness added "70%" of his time at the home was enjoyable and he saw one of the nuns and a worker at the home as parent figures.
Colin MacAuley QC, counsel to the inquiry, put it to the witness that a particular nun has been spoken to by the inquiry and does not accept there were any beatings during her time there. The witness added: "That's a lie."
The inquiry continues.