‘The memories never leave me’ – Lorry driver claims he was beaten at boarding school
PUBLISHED: 05:30 03 August 2020 | UPDATED: 09:04 03 August 2020
A former pupil at a school where dozens of alleged victims have claimed they were abused has revealed his “terrible” experiences haunt him to this day.
Lorry driver Garry Rudd, from Felixstowe, claims he suffered physical and emotional abuse at Oxley Parker School in Mill Road, Colchester.
The 55-year-old says his time at the now-closed boarding school, which was open from 1972 to 1998, drove him to a suicide attempt at 17.
Now pursuing a legal claim against it, he wants to encourage others to speak out before it is too late – a compensation scheme for alleged victims closes at the end of August.
The Eastern Counties Educational Trust (ECET), which used to run the school and is now a grant-giving organisation, has paid out £2million to date after more than 100 ex-pupils claimed they were abused, some of them sexually.
It launched a scheme in 2018 to compensate former students, which is due to end on August 31, 2020.
‘Beaten and bashed about’
“I was beaten up and bashed about by staff, deprived of my freedom and kept from my family,” claims Mr Rudd, who was sent to the school with his twin brother as his mother was disabled.
“On one occasion a pitchfork was put up against my throat, with the prongs digging in to my neck.
“It was a terrible place to have to live in. The memories never leave me. I carry a lot of baggage around with me and it affects me to this day.
“At the time we thought what was happening to us was right, because it was a naughty boys’ school, we deserved to be treated like that.
He added: “If you want to get justice, if you can’t cope with the way you felt during your childhood and thought what happened was wrong, I’d encourage people to definitely get in touch (with the solicitors).”
An ECET spokeswoman said it was not able to comment on individual cases, adding: “ECET has extended the compensation scheme date of their own volition until August 31, 2020 due to the pandemic, the closing date for the litigation is also August 31, which has been imposed by a High Court judge.
“None of ECET’s current trustees had any affiliation with the school, which closed in 1998.”
MORE: ‘He wanted justice’ – Claimant in school abuse case dies awaiting High Court verdict
Allegations of abuse at Oxley Parker first arose in 1993, relating to Jonathan Bridgewater, who taught at the all boys’ school from 1979.
Bridgewater was arrested in January 1996 and later found guilty of buggery, indecent assault and attempted buggery against seven boys.
The judge, sentencing Bridgewater to 10 years in prison, said he preyed on his victims’ vulnerability to satisfy his “perverted desires”.
Ofsted inspectors visited the school the following February, placing it in special measures for failing to provide pupils an acceptable education.
Later that year, an independent report found “sexual and physical abuse was institutionalised in the culture of Oxley Parker School”.
Mr Rudd is among a group of former pupils, supported by solicitors Andrew Grove and Co, who have taken their claims against ECET to the High Court.
People in this group do not qualify for a payment process offered to other alleged victims, known as a tariff scheme, which pays out different sums depending on the type of abuse and prevents court action.
MORE: More victims come forward after body builder claims he was abused at boarding school
Solicitor Katherine Yates said: “This firm has been in contact with over 120 former pupils of Oxley Parker School, but I know that there are more survivors out there who are yet to tell their story and who could benefit from this compensation scheme and therapy fund.
“For those whose claims do not meet the criteria for a payment from the scheme it is not too late to join the litigation group, but if you wait until after August 31, 2020 it will be.
“If you are a former pupil of Oxley Parker School then please reach out to us before it is too late.”
In February 2020, dozens more people were said to have come forward after bodybuilder Aaron Lambo claimed he suffered physical abuse at the school.
He told his fans it was “OK to be angry” but urged them to seek help, as he had done, rather than “bottle it up” inside.
Ms Yates can be contacted on 01223 367133.
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