A former Spalding schoolboy who grew up in care has spoken of his sadness relating to the news of two girls brought up in care who committed murder.
Mark Edwards, now ordained in the Anglican Church, has drawn on his own experiences and says however bad a start in life the girls had it is no excuse to kill someone.
He has spoken out in relation to the murder of Angela Wrightson (39), in Hartelpool, County Durham, on December 8, 2014, for which two teenage girls – aged 13 and 14 at the time of the offence – have just been jailed for 15 years.
“I spent most of – if not my entire – childhood having suffered abuse of one kind or another, being shunted and moved around various foster homes from the age of three, some of them good, some of them not so good,” he recalls.
“But despite the abuses of my childhood and the disruption to my education I didn’t grow up to murder anyone or drift into a life of crime or take drugs.”
Mark, who attended Spalding’s Gleed Boys’ School, lived at Ivo Cottage in the town from 1971-78. After leaving he was sectioned to a mental health hospital after attempting suicide and was homeless for a time but since turning his life around he has become a married father of four and holds an MBE for services to his community.
“The council-run home I was in took up to 20 children from the age of three up to 18 with only two house parents on duty at a time to look after us.
“The regime was strict and regimented, we lived within set boundaries and there was discipline. I felt secure in that regime. We had fun and were mischievous, but knew not to cross the boundaries and we were taught right from wrong,” says Mark, who now lives in Dinnington, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.
“I did go on a spiral of decline after I left care as I began to work out many of the un-resolved issues of my childhood; however the values and morals that the children’s home instilled in me remained with me throughout my later troubled teenage years.
“Despite being sectioned in a metal health ward after trying to commit suicide and being homeless for a short time, I did not drift into crime, drugs, alcohol abuse and nor did I ever feel like I wanted to kill anyone, despite my abusive and disadvantage back ground.”
To help come to terms with his past Mark wrote an autobiographical book called Tears in the Dark, about his life growing up in care, and a sequel – Beyond the Collar: Confessions of a Vicar – an honest and humorous look at his life as a vicar working in a deprived area.
“It is hard being brought up in care, it’s difficult when you’ve had a bad start in life, it’s horrendous when you’ve suffered physical, emotional and sexual abuse, but however horrendous your upbringing it’s not an excuse to drift into crime or kill,” he adds.