A pensioner who endured physical abuse during his early years in care has revealed he has a new-found lease of life as he ticks off a bucket list of experiences denied him in his youth.
Tommy Hagan suffered a series of brutal attacks while in the care of Quarriers during the 1930s and 1940s. The 81-year-old was severely beaten, often with a belt, and forced to sit in a freezing cold bath by those tasked with safeguarding his welfare at a care home in Renfrewshire.
After decades of silence, Mr Hagan spoke out about his abusive childhood during a gathering of survivors five years ago. Now, he has gone public with his story, and said he is enjoying life with the help of Mind Mosaic, an Inverclyde-based charity which offers counselling and therapy for survivors of childhood abuse.
Mr Hagan was just three when he and his older brother, Alec, were taken into care after their parents split up. He said that he was targeted for trivial things such as wetting his bed or struggling to finish meals.
Recounting his early years to the BBC, Mr Hagan singled out a woman and a man who meted out much of the abuse.
He said: “They were supposed to look after us but they didn’t do it. The woman carried a belt in her hand all the time. I got beaten every morning.
“If you didn’t like something at the dinner table, she used to stand behind you and she kept walloping you over the face till you ate it.”
Mr Hagan added: “The man beat me because I was wet. He pinned me to the floor every morning. He dragged me out of bed then dragged me down the stairs and turned the taps full blast on.
“I had to sit in the bath freezing cold and it was up to my neck, just sitting freezing. My legs started getting red and blue with the cold.”
As well as reflecting on “the bad years,” Mr Hagan said he was now enjoying life, and has ticked off the majority of the items listed on his bucket list.
So far, he has fulfilled the lifelong ambition of flying on a plane, learning to play drums, taking a trip on the Waverley paddle steamer, and visiting Edinburgh Butterfly and Insect World.
Mr Hagan said he was glad he decided to speak out about his abuse, and is grateful for the help he has received.
He added: “Folk have helped me a lot and it’s made me feel a lot better. I used to be in the house myself and I just felt, well, nobody seems to care, you know? I’m a survivor now.”
Elaine Wroe, a trauma therapist at Mind Mosaic, said: “Tommy is an exceptional man. He’s a very traumatised man, but he is happy.”
The charity has helped Mr Hagan pursue his modest bucket list with financial help and support from Future Pathways, a fund which offers help to people who were abused or neglected as children while they were living in care in Scotland.
Mind Mosaic recently received a donation to take Tommy on a trip on a luxury yacht, and it has appealed for vessel owners who might be interested to contact them via www.mindmosaic.co.uk.
Six entries from Tommy’s bucket list:
1. Drum like a rock star
2. Visit a butterfly farm
3. Travel to Rome
4. See a black swan
5. Do something to help others
6. Enjoy a fantastic pie and chips