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Oswestry woman tells of abuse at the hands of Jimmy Savile

Oswestry | News | Published:

The contrast could not be greater. In the 1970s Shropshire woman Karin Ward was a vulnerable and damaged child, barely in her teens, and already a victim of terrible abuse at the hands of her family.

At the same time, Jimmy Savile was one of TV's biggest names, instantly recognisable for his trademark cigar and jangling gold chains, a British cultural icon.

Regular visits by Savile, the BBC's 'golden boy', to the approved school in Surrey where Karin Ward and other 'intelligent, emotionally disturbed' girls were kept locked away was seen by most as another example of the radio DJ and TV presenter's endless charitable work.

But there was a darker side to his visits.

According to 54-year-old Karin, and many of the other girls who were forced to call Duncroft Approved School home, the visits by Savile were something entirely different – a way of feeding his perverted sexual interest in young girls.

And speaking at her home in the village of St Martins near Oswestry, Karin says what happened during her troubled childhood has stayed with her all her life, leading to 'disastrous' relationships, three failed marriages and seven children, four of whom she does not see.

Karin, who moved to Shropshire 18 years ago, said: "The abuse actually started when I lived in Norfolk.

"I started trying to tell the authorities what was happening. I was not believed and was sent to Garfield House children's home in Norfolk."

It was while living at Garfield House when Karin met Jimmy Savile for the first time.

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She said: "We had all been taken away to Jersey for a two-week camping holiday.

"I don't remember him doing anything to me. What I do remember is being raped twice during that holiday. The first was a fighter and then the second man was a Frenchman.

"Looking back it seemed that the home had shared us out with abusers on the island."

Karin was moved to Duncroft Approved School when she was about 12 or 13 years old.

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She said: "It might sound strange because we were locked up at the school and rarely went out but I actually felt more safe at Duncroft than I did anywhere else before in my life. The staff were strict but there was no abuse, nobody did anything awful to you.

"Then Jimmy Savile came on the scene."

Karin said the star would regularly take the young girls out on trips in his car as well as arrange for them to come to see the filming of his Saturday night variety show Clunk Click at BBC Television Centre in London.

She said: "We thought it was fantastic.

"Jimmy Savile was a huge TV star. He would come with gifts, cigarettes, which were the currency of the time."

Karin alleged: "Girls would go with him in his car and do sexual favours for him. I went with him in his car, many of the girls did.

"We all knew what was going on. We would laugh among ourselves and say 'oh, he is a dirty old man'."

The sexual abuse allegedly continued during trips to London to BBC Television Centre.

Karin said: "We would go to his dressing room, meet celebrities, the alcohol was flowing.

"There would be about eight or 10 Duncroft girls in the dressing room, however many fitted in the minibus. Somebody would be on Jimmy Savile's lap, he would have had his hand up her jumper, up her skirt."

Among the celebrities was Gary Glitter, who in later years was convicted of downloading child pornography in Britain and abusing children in Vietnam.

Karin said: "On one occasion Gary Glitter was in the dressing room. He was having sex with an underage girl, one of the Duncroft girls, behind a curtain in an alcove of the dressing room.

"On a different occasion another celebrity, who I will not name, tried to put his hand up my jumper while we were in Jimmy Savile's dressing room.

"I shouted at him to stop. In front of everyone he shouted at me, humiliated me."

Karin left local authority care when she was 17 and embarked on what she candidly calls a 'disastrous personal life with all the wrong kind of men'.

She said: "My first three children were put in care – I didn't know how to be a mother, how to love my child because of my own childhood. "My fourth child is no longer in touch with me.

"I live with my youngest child and I am in constant touch with my second and third youngest children.

"I was married three times and divorced each time. I can't keep a relationship and have never enjoyed sex. All this goes to my own childhood."

Breakdown

Karin said she broke her silence on the abuse after she suffered a breakdown. A psychologist suggested she should write down her experiences to help the healing process.

Her online work was read by BBC Newsnight staff who last year were researching allegations surrounding Jimmy Savile and Karin agreed to be interviewed for the programme. She said she was 'aggrieved and angry' to be told the investigation had been ditched by the BBC.

Karin then agreed to speak to ITV who were putting together a documentary about Savile and had spoken to other girls who made similar allegations about the entertainer.

The show was aired on Wednesday night, creating a media storm and although Karin did not feature in the broadcast version, her story was filmed and is available at www.itv.com.

She said: "I have not made a penny from this. Journalists have offered me thousands for my story but I won't take it.

"It would mean I was putting a price on what happened, as if it was somehow OK. It was not OK, it is not OK.

"It is not OK for Jimmy Savile to do it, it is not OK for anyone to do it."

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