We all need to try and help each other and find out what happened to us in colwood / larchwood

Colwood Adolescent Unit, Haywards Heath

Colwood Adolescent Unit, Haywards Heath

Thank you so much for this site. Would you please check Colwood Adolescent Unit, Haywards Health, Sussex. I cannot be the only one with a story to tell. I was there 1981/82. I understand your need to corroborate, but like Hill End posts, please anyone, add your voice regarding Colwood in the early 1980s.
Thank you

S 02/01/14

This is Sussex

97 responses to “Colwood Adolescent Unit, Haywards Heath

  1. Beverley Thompson

    I was at the centre when it first opened in the early 70s. Seems like a million years ago. I was about 12/13 years old. My psychiatrist was Hellier.

    • Steve

      I too was there around that time. Spent a year there. Dr Morgan was my specialist. Had a good time there TBH.
      Steve Davidson.

      • Anna-Lisa Baker

        Hi Steve, remember me? I just posted a message and mentioned you in it but now i see I can reply individually.. Lovely to know you’re still out there. How are you doing? xx

    • Mandy Paine MBE

      Hi Beverly,
      Do you remember , Sister Gander, & Brian the social worker and Noel, the male charge nurse
      Driving me crazy,
      Wish I could turn clock back,

  2. I was there 16 years ago and it still haunts me to this day

    • Hi amylong267 I was at colwood between 1980

      • Jaynjay jones

        Hi my names jay i was there in 1992 i can remember a girl cutting her wrist in the shower and seeing her walk out from the girls dorms coerd in blood scared me for life i remember a girl called cat i remember a couple of girls had eating disorder but overall this place saved me from going down the wrong path in life xx

    • I was there I’m 1991 anybody else remember me I’m Danny luck this hospital was absolutely useless i came out a mess they promised everything but did nothing

      • Dan Murphy

        Hey Daniel Luck, I remember you, I was the other Daniel there when you were there. I remember it all well, didn’t we used to have massive pillow fights in the boys dorms lol

    • I wwastbete Cora little while tell me about your experience

  3. louise varcoe

    I was there in 1981-1982, scarred me for life

  4. louise varcoe

    its not nice when your not wanted

  5. I was there 1981- 1982 . I had dr cutler as my specialist .

  6. marlon hayley

    Hi glad i found this website i was in Larchwood in 1976 and i dont know if any one else remembers a person called peter well he ruined my life .. i thought he was a nurse but im not so sure now, he may have had something to do with the church as he came and went as he liked . DR cutlur was the one that put me in there ..only thing i got out of that poxy place was how to tell the time by a nice teacher by the name of Kate

    • Andrews putland

      Hi Marlon sorry to hear about your childhood experiences at Larch wood..I was there in 1980 yes a truely horrid place..that Peter was an evil person who ruiend a lot of young people’s lives mine included.

  7. Simon Ingram

    I stayed there in 1979, and I still don’t know why. I remember some fellow children called Helen and Sean who I was good friends with. I remember a nurse (?) called Ranjit who was a lovely guy and taught me to play chords on the guitar. There was a another guy called David who seemed to come and go quite often. An apparently very friendly guy, but a little too fond of children.

  8. Anna-Lisa Baker

    I stayed at Colwood from February 1978 for a longer time than average, leaving finally in 1980. I met some lovely people in there, but I was abused too. If anyone else has an abuse story, do speak out. I have told the police but don’t have enough evidence to get it to court and would love to!

    By the way, Steve Davidson I remember you, and your infectious humour, well 🙂 Hope things are good for you xx

    • John Van Gorder

      Tried to post my thought and experiences, but they haven’t shown up yet (they’d better!).
      I’m glad to see a few brave, uncompromising folk posting their raw feelings here. Much damage was done at this hospital and it does no good to cushion it all in any way, shape, or form. The whole place was a disgrace. Unbelievable really. Thank god for the one or two kind people who truly cared, but they were significantly outnumbered by those who did not.
      Always thinking of you Anna, Take care.

      • gary ferris

        hi john .don’t think u know me I was there between 81 -82. well what it is . I was talking to someone that knew u today and who was a good mate of mine while I was there . . a Darren shelley and we were remmanissing about our days there . and ure name came up and I hope u don’t mind . but I mentioned u had posted on here and he asked to say hello from him . hpe u didn’t mind me writing this message take care .

    • Claire Phillips

      Hi Annalisa, just found this website, I was Claire Newman – now
      Claire Phillips. Have posted below and would like it if you get in
      touch, i remember you well, how are the owls ?

    • Hi Anna-Lisa
      I remember you. I was Claire Newman now Claire Phillips. I would love to hear from you or anyone who knew me. I was there from January 1977 August 1978. I remember your owls and a lot more. How are you doing?

  9. John Van Gorder

    I should NEVER have been there in the first place. I was cleared in court of any wrongdoing, but was never informed of the decision ~ everyone kept it hushed up on purpose. So how could I ever have been admitted for an offense that I never committed? Innocent until proven guilty? Colwood failed to honor the law of the land and admitted me anyway. Nothing but lies and excuses for two years, It was criminal and I should most certainly be compensated. What they stole from me can never be replaced.
    Justice will never be done, but Colwood was a disgrace on all levels. I was there from 1979-1981.
    I did nothing wrong, but was legally made homeless at 14. I was initially wrongly accused of creating a fire that severely burned a friend of mine from school. I was cleared of all blame in court. Not one staff member informed of this verdict, and so I was left to rot in the hospital.
    I thank the very few charge nurses who knew the truth and attempted to make my time their better, Bless them.
    I so wish I could take those involved to court and have them compensate me for the life I had stolen from me, but they’re slippery, gutless eels who really don’t care a hoot for those they pretend to care for.
    Truly disgraceful (and I’ve heard and seen plenty more from others that merely reinforces all that I’ve written of here).
    I’m sure the kind people behind all of this would love to compensate me for almost completely destroying an innocent boy’s life. One never fully recovers from such negligence and abuse.
    I could go on and on, but what’s the point? If anyone ever gets together to challenge this lot in a serious way, count me in!!
    My best to all others who’ve suffered in similar ways. Bless you all.

  10. Robin Bell

    Robin Bell, Stayed there because I was a abuse victim and had lost the feelings to my legs, Not sure when I stayed there maybe it was from 1982-1984 and not a hundred percent….I Do however miss the time I was there but i do feel i was molested by the over night staff as I was a pupil age 13-15. I did meet someone called Fiona there that I regret leaving and never kept in touch, I’m now 47 and still single…..I have found it very difficult to understand what went wrong in my early years and how to cope with life….I am a survivor or a horrific sexual abuse that took place when I was a child and to this day I still have problems….not only with my mental health problems but with day to day living, I never met anyone that I fell in love with because I always thought i was in the wrong or I never knew my what my feelings meant….I still to this day wished that I stayed with that girl I knew at Colwood, I would however be very grateful if Fiona was reading this to get in touch with me so that we could relate to each other….All the best guys and try and have fun…Robin Bell .

  11. louise

    does anyone know if we were secretly drugged in there?

  12. Sally Mason

    Hi there Sally Bolton 1983 1984 I was in collwood hospital for one year I was eleven my doctor was mr Elkins my nurse was Andy I remember my best friend was Judie but I can’t remember her last name

  13. Hi. I’m Shaun. I was in Colwood from June 1984 for about a year. Shocking place really. I remember Wayne Tasker (Who I am still in touch with), Karen, Fiona, Mia, Robert, Andy Mason, Louise, Gary, Ricky, Helen, Colin. Doc was Cutler and was pretty useless. Most of the staff really didn’t give a shit…especially the night staff. I tore the ligament in my knee and was walking about on it for 2 weeks because they thought I was faking. Ended up in Plaster for 2 weeks! If anyone remembers me do get in touch.

  14. marlon hayley

    hi again as in my first post i told you i was in larchwod in 1977 does anyone from colwood a man by the name of peter that worked there ???
    As i read more of these posts the more i think we should do something about it any ideas?

  15. marlon hayley

    older looking guy use to wear a reddish jumper and a tweed jacket with leather elbow pads gray hair

    • I think I know who you mean. It was a long time ago but cant be sure. He had very little to do with Colwood though. There was a guy who worked for the Transport Police that used to come into Colwood a lot. Why or who invited him I don’t know. A few years later he was done for paedophilia and topped himself.

    • i was in Larchwood between 79-81 I remember the guy you mentioned called Peter. horrible man used to hang around by the swimming pool. he abused many of the boys who were there at the time. So sad I was wondering for years if I was the only one who had known about this evil man.

      • Craig

        Hi, I was in larchwood probably 10 years after you and the same happened to me at the pool , I’m now in touch with a solicitor, if you are interested I could put you in touch

      • Andrews putland

        Sorry to hear about your horrendous story Craig.
        I too was in Larch wood in the early 80s and this happened to me in the swimming pool and whilst I was alone in the toilets in Larch wood.

  16. Dam it….I miss her after having a rotten start in life I really do not forgive my self until I find her really !

  17. Mandy Paine MBE

    Hi i was at Colwood in I think 75/76 . I remember a charge nurse called Noel & Dr Charlesworth , trying to remember names of other, Wendy Grant who was in salvation army, Paul who was brill on piano, Tessa jago, Caroline whose parents owned restaurant in Brighton, would love to catch up. Especially Noel as he had a lot to getting me better.

  18. Andrews putland

    I was in Haywards heath a few years ago and curiosity got the better of me so I visited the old Larch wood site on Lewes rd. A couple of builders were stripping out the place and they let me take a look around. Very moving and even after all this year’s I felt a chilling presence as I walked around.

  19. Robin Bell

    Wow anyway’s I’m Looking in to the possibility that most of the problems I had in my Early Childhood life up to present day stems with ADHD and I never really knew until my mother visited me 14/09/2016. I was very nervous because I have never got on with any of my Parent’s….We Sat and spoke and I ask her what was I like as a child and she said when you were born you were very quiet until up to the time you started to talk which was around the age 4 and no one could understand me apart from my 4 year older Brother and he use to translate for my mum and step dad. and then everything went pear shaped and I have never from that day had so much problems that life for me has been hell apart from when I went to Colwood in Haywards Heath and I’m not 100% sure so I’m gonna say 1982-84, not only did I have mental problems and learning difficulties but I’d already had been sexually interfered with, So when I was touched up I didn’t tell anyone because I thought it was normal and I probably thought back then that it was a bad thing to do but now it’s to late to do anything and none of it would hold up in court…..Need I say more ?

  20. Claire Phillips

    Claire Newman (now Phillips),
    Hi Annalisa Baker, I remember you, I was in Colwood from Jan 1977-
    August 1978. I remember Steve Davidson and would love to get in touch
    with anyone who new me. Lynn Wootton are you out there ?

  21. Has anyone had any thoughts about trying to get some answer from higher up in the NHS as we were children put in there care and most of us came out worse??

  22. Paula

    I would love some answers as i still dont know to this day why i was put in there ,?
    I was there 1983 for over 2 years

  23. shaun2015

    Hi Paula…i emailed you through private mail. How you doing?

  24. Paula

    Hi Shaun
    Im fine thankyou still plodding along like you do ha ha, how are you ??

  25. shaun2015

    Im good. What are you up to these days? Did you get my email by the way?

  26. Paula

    Hi Shaun
    Yeah i did, sorry have been so busy , ive been doing extra hours at work and hoping to move soon so havnt had much time on my hands, how are you and your family ??

  27. shaun2015

    Yeh all good. Life is hectic as normal. So what you doing these days?

  28. Paula

    I spend most of my time at work really, i work in a hotel and do quiye a lot of hours, i actually have a day off today first one in a while , be nice to spend some time with the girls for once xx

  29. shaun2015

    Nice to have family time…didn’t you used to work with your husband???

  30. Paula

    Yeah i run my own business for a lot of years but when he left i had a breakdown and basically my business went to.put, since then ive just worked for other places as i havnt had the funds to start it back up again xx

  31. shaun2015

    I emailed you private. Check your mail.

  32. St.John

    Was there in 1972-73 I remember Neil the hippy Paul Whickham Pippa Scott Tanya Goodband Lynne Deasy. Dreadful place. I can safely say it ruined my life. They drugged you by force if you stepped out of line which I did on many occasions.

    • Paula

      Hi st John
      Would you be in agreement to.going further with this to get some answers ?. It seems a lot of us were abused and I think something should be done about it x

    • louise varcoe

      hi just read your post, are you sure they drugged you, in colwood the childrens part?
      i dont think they drugged me as i wasnt given any medication, thats fucking outragous, i feel sick,
      so sorry to hear that xxxxx

      • St.John

        Staff would be summoned from St Francis and they would forcibly inject you with tranquilliser. Pretty outrageous when you think about it now.

      • louise varcoe

        i only remember the circle time on a monday, and then those pathetic grades that allowed you privlages. I do remember being put in a side room and watched for a whole day as i was not allowed out of bed.
        although in some ways i was scarred as i changed religions and wanted to get out the country!
        Its my poor daughter i guess who also suffers as i am weird around hospitals and aggresive towards people in charge ie social workers etc
        Guess they would know call me anti sociable as i trust no-one x

    • April copeland

      I remember Neil my name is april

  33. Wendy McLeod

    Hi I was at colwood in 1981/2 my names Wendy I remember a Lara and a Elizabeth and Denise who used to have to have electric shocks to her brain and Angela who had a eating disorder I remember a Irish bloke called Tim and another called Blay and I remember going camping loved to know if anyone remembers me and how everyone is doing x

    • gary ferris

      hi wendy I was there between 81/ 82 . we would of been there at the same time . I used to hang around with russel and Darren .don’t know if u remember them . . I remember we all used to sit round with all the staff once a week .and have to ask for grades to c how good we had been something like that anyway . the only wendy I think I remember was a wendy cambell but may have that wrong . anywaim doing ok . hope u as well .take care .

  34. louise varcoe

    anyone remember the name of a phychiatric female nurse that had long blonde hair and was a bitch?

  35. louise varcoe

    probably shouldnt put this down but some of you might be intrested, take a look at ‘ friends of st francis’ on facebook, some of the old staff have written down comments on the hospital.

    • shaun2015

      Louise…whereabouts are these comments? I just trawled through the FB page and cant find anything mentioning Colwood.

      • Paula

        I haunt been able to find them either x

      • louise varcoe

        its not about colwood just the main hospital and a think a photo of the building of the school, their comments were about the older patients, still enough to spook me looking at them

  36. gary ferris

    was there 1981 -1982 . remember doing the south downs walk over 5 days . and remember the teachers enid , moira and dave

    • Hey Garry I Don’t remember any of the teachers or pupils apart from Paula and Fiona….I was there 1983/84….Robin Bell

      • gary ferris

        the teachers may of left by then , I remember some of the staff if they were still there In 83 … tm o leary . a howard , jo and Jackie . and I had dr cutler as my doctor

    • Paula

      Hi Gary I was there in 82 onwards , Moira also taught me, she was lovely , was you there when she died ? X

  37. gary ferris

    hi paula I left in the may of 82 ure right she wasa nice lady .and so were the other 2 they were very helpful to me .but wasent there when she died x

  38. louise varcoe

    just read a book called The Hospital by barbara o hare, about an unwanted girl taken to a childs hospital/mental institution where she was drugged and raped, she makes some intresting points about being a ward of court and other points that i dont understand regarding being held against her will.
    Im pretty sure that the laws are differant from one county to another, but i think we all need to look into this

  39. louise varcoe

    also they started a facebook page to reach other survivors maybe this is a good idea too to find some others and hear their stories?

  40. Craig

    So glad to have found this site! I was in larchwood around 90-91, taken from school by the police . No assessment! No talking to me! Just dumped there! That was a shock to the system that has lasted 25 years! I had a horrible time in there also by the hands of an older man that done anything he wanted to me! I’ve only spoke out about it in the last month but I’m still too scared to go police, my parents won’t give me answers as to why I was there and have now cut me out their lives because I won’t stop asking! That place ruined me!

  41. Paula

    Hi everyone , lots of not so nice comments on here about what we all went through in colwood and larchwood , seems it has really messed some of us up , I think it would be a good idea to find out where we all stand with this , just speaking in behalf of myself I still find it difficult over 30 years later to come to terms with what happened to me x

    • Craig

      I’ve been in touch with a solicitor and he thinks there is a very good case to sue not just for abuse but also for being put in larchwood when I didn’t have any assessment at all , I really shouldn’t have been there x

      • Paula

        That would be a good path to follow Craig, there are a couple of us on here that feel the same xx

      • Simon Ingram

        All it will take is one person to proceed, with a likely result of a rather large can of worms opening up!

      • Paula

        So what is it you are saying Simon? X

      • Simon Ingram

        Most of us here suffered some kind of abuse at Colwood/Larchwood. As soon as someone makes a case it is likely to give the rest of us confidence to join in. Some of the stories I’ve learnt about on here are truly horrific, and make my experience extremely tame by comparison. But what happened was very wrong, and those in responsible positions of trust, for vulnerable young people, should be brought to justice so at least some of us can have closure. Even if some of us have learnt to live with what happened, it never goes away.

      • Paula

        I totally agree and this is why I think we should all work with each other to get this sorted with some kind of closure xx

  42. Craig

    I’m in contact with a solicitor already, he’s cslled David Greenwood, I have recently sent off for my social service records so I can get the exact dates I was in larchwood, I’ve had to do that as I asked my mother and shes told me to leave it and won’t talk to me about why I was there or any exact dates , if you want to contact me let me know and I’ll send my email address x

  43. Pingback: Colwood Adolescent Unit, Haywards Heath – colwood / larchwood

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