Pair hunt 15 missing siblings lost to Scottish care system

Bernard Clark,  Andrew, James and Joan Clark. Picture: CP

Bernard Clark, Andrew, James and Joan Clark. Picture: CP

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Two brothers have started piecing together their family after it was torn apart when 15 siblings were placed in care all over the country five decades ago.

Bernard Clark and Ian Savage were reunited just two years ago after being separated as children in the 1950s and 1960s when authorities deemed their parents, Elizabeth and William unfit to care for them.

Bernard, from Greenock, was fostered with his sister Joan, and Ian was adopted shortly after his birth and did not discover he had any siblings until he was a teenager.

It was when a different brother, George, turned up that Ian was able to find out the full extent of his history.

Ian said: “It never occurred to me there could be a family out there. It was quite a shock.

“The strange thing about it was that when I opened the door to him I knew he was my brother. I don’t know what it is, but when he said: ‘I’m your brother’, I thought ‘I know that’.

“Within half an hour we had gone through the whole story about all the kids who were related.

“It was overwhelming.”

George, who died in 2015, tracked down Bernard and Joan in 2011 and was determined to find more siblings.

Bernard knew of another sister, Sandra, and grew up in close proximity to Ian when growing up.

Bernard said: “Throughout my life, I thought I was alone with Joan. No father figure, nothing.

“Then in 2011, a guy turns up at your door and says he’s your brother. It has taken me six years to get my head around it.”

Among the findings, however, there were stories of abuse and neglect.

George, along with his brother James and Tommy, were physically abused and lived in poverty.

Tommy, who was eight at the time, was forced to sleep and eat in the farmhouse which he worked on during the day.

James and George spent three years living in a dilapidated chicken hut and were often starved and beaten.

Ian spoke of his sadness at the discovery of his family coming so late in life.

“We are all in our 60s. I’m 67 this year and two years ago I did not know they existed,” he said.

He also discovered that two siblings, Mary and Billy, had already passed away.

Sandra died a short time after being found and another brother, David, was found living under the name of Iain McLean in Clydebank.

Six other children - John, Isabel, Anna, Ruth, Elizabeth and Peter - were born between 1936 and 1943 but all died in infancy.

Another brother was found living in Wiltshire.

The missing link, however, is oldest brother Tommy, who is believed to have moved to Aberdeen after leaving the Highland farm.

Bernard said: “It’s so amazing. When I was a child I thought there was just three of us.

“Now, it feels like it’s just short of 300.”

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