Standing Up For Fornethy - a Memory of Fornethy Residential School.

I have been reading lots of accounts of how bad Fornethy was, of beatings, and abuse, but I didn't experience any of that. I was there twice, including for my 11th birthday in May 1970. I have a letter I sent home which is very obvious to me in my own words.
One thing I had forgotten was the crow in the cage. It was explained to us that the farmer trapped crows to stop them killing lambs. I remember being amazed that when we were all walking along lanes, that drivers would wave to us all. It wasn't like that in Glasgow!
There was a tuck shop where you could buy sweets etc., I think just once a week, but certainly not every day. They kept a book with a log of how much money you had so that you didn't spend it all at once - so the more you had, the more you could spend each time.
I was in Reekie Linn dorm the first time and then Forter the second. They were next door to each other. If a girl was known to be a bedwetter, their chair at the bottom of the bed was turned 90 degrees and then the staff would wake them at some point in the night to take them to the toilet to avoid the wetting. I was never aware of any girl being beaten or even shouted at for having an accident.
I think we had weekly baths, again certainly not daily. The staff ladies would help with bathing. I'm not sure if we all had clean water or not, but in the tenements virtually no one even had a bath, other than the tin one brought out and shared by all, so not having fresh water for everyone wasn't anything too unusual or to be thought about at the time.
After walks we would come in the back door into the long cloakroom area to change from wellies into sandshoes for indoor wear. We always had sing-songs there and I especially remember the tall elegant lady, who I'm pretty sure was Miss/Mrs Fletcher, singing with us. I loved it. I remember playing out in the garden/lawn and picking daisies to make daisy chains.
On Saturday nights we had film night which was a real treat. I still remember a couple of the films. There were plastic cups in there for our drink of milk.
When you had a letter arrive you went up to the library. Several girls at a time got to sit in the sumptuous sofas and then were given the letters. It was such luxury to me.
We were issued, weekly, a sort of flowery pinafore to wear, and some patterns were definitely more sought after than others. We collected them from a huge linen cupboard.
The bathrooms were downstairs from Reekie Lynn and Forter and we had to go there to brush teeth at night. I remember the red toothpaste in a tin. Since I never even had a toothbrush at home, this was all new to me at first. I loved the routines and tried to carry then on when I got back home - like making my bed every morning.
My memories of the dining room are very hazy. I think we were served at the table. We were taught how to use a knife and fork correctly. At home we never even sat at a table together to eat. I have no bad memories of mealtimes.
Girls went on rolling weeks so there were always new ones. The old hands were never terribly nice to new ones, but only for a day or so. When I was there I remember 3 sisters, the oldest was Agnes and I adored her. She was more developed than anyone else and so was allowed to have her bath on her own. Their dad was ill and couldn't have them back home at the end of their 4 weeks so they got to stay on. I remember being very jealous. I named my doll Agnes.
When I went to secondary (Woodside) I met a girl who had been in Forter dorm with me - Charlotte McLay. Other than her I knew no one else before or after Fornethy. My sisters, Kay and Rose, went as well but not at the same time as me.
I hope that there are many other girls who have good memories. I have just spoken to Kay and her only bad memory is of being made to eat macaroni cheese once a week. Other than that, she loved the whole experience too.
Marjorie South (was Proffitt)


A memory shared by Marjorie South on Jun 25th, 2021. Send Marjorie South a message

 Comments & Feedback

Thu Sep 16th 2021, at 4:49 pm
Eileen Green commented:
What a lovely idyllic description of your holiday at Fornethy. Sadly there are well over one hundred women now who will have reported the awful abuse they suffered to the police, including myself. Who knows why you escaped it, perhaps they liked your face. But they didn't like mine and one 'Teacher' made this clear by taking off her wooden Scholl sandal and thrashing me across the legs with it. When I was in shock and didn't cry she said 'Oh you'll no cry eh? Well you'll cry now.' and she battered me with that Scholl sandal until I did. I couldn't believe the violence and the pain inflicted on me from another adult other than my violent father. Marjorie there will be other woman who are also unaware of the investigation due to being abroad or outwith Scotland, and those who have passed away. Your 'Standing up for Fornethy' is not unusual as this happens in different environments where there is abuse. For example fathers who sexually abuse their children and people refusing to believe it as they were a 'Good father.; Be grateful that you were not one of the little girls treated appallingly but you could at lease acknowledge the pain and suffering of the many that were, instead of hoping for other women with 'Happier memories' who could obviously 'Stand up' for Fornethy. Sad that you don't.
Fri Jul 30th 2021, at 8:29 am
Kathy Park commented:
Oh well I’m sure there will be at least over 100 woman that will disagree with you. I myself had a horrendous time there and have now been diagnosed PTSD thanks to the beatings and abuse I suffered. I also have some nice memories of sitting with my feet in the burn and making flower baskets from the cones in the woods. I am a 52 yr old woman now sleeping with the light on due to that place causing me nightmares. I have my own opinions to why you were maybe favoured to the rest of us but il save that for my day in court and if all else fails then I will definitely be naming and shaming. Cant be easy for family members of the staff that worked there knowing that they turned a blind eye to what was going on. I hope for the rest that have passed may they rot in hell for the hell they put us through.
Fri Jul 30th 2021, at 8:27 am
shazcruden commented:
Hi,i totally disagree there should be some balance. Thats like condoning the abuse. You are well entitled to your opinion Marjorie. I wish you could have walked in my shoes back then. Are you saying that these survivors are lying?
Fri Jul 30th 2021, at 8:07 am
Marjorie South commented:
Hi Shaz,
I wanted to stand up for Fornethy because I loved my time there and I think there should be some balance. I came upon the accusations quite by accident and was dumbfounded by what "survivors" were saying.
How do you know that "There are lots more survivors out there who havent come forward yet."? I'm also sure there also many more who have mainly good memories but they won't say so, or won't see the media stuff.
I had another comment by email saying I must be a former employee or relative to be writing what I did. I am neither! I was a 10/11 year old who was twice give the opportunity to have a month out of Glasgow and in the country at Fornethy. I also went to Maybole twice when I was 5/6, and Achnamara when I was 12. Those country breaks were great for me.
Fri Jul 30th 2021, at 7:14 am
shazcruden commented:
Wow Marjorie,thats some memory you have. It basically contradicts lots of survivors stories! You are one lucky lady to have had a great time there. I personally only have very bad memories at the hellhole! Also why would you want to stand up for the place? Have you not seen the media coverage? There are lots more survivors out there who havent come forward yet. Why would you want to stand up for any girls abusers? Im baffled.

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