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Judy tells of life as a street child

PUBLISHED: 16:05 26 June 2008 | UPDATED: 11:18 03 July 2010

EVERYBODY thought Judy Westwater's father was virtuous and a charming spiritualist preacher but the little girl knew otherwise.

Now a grandmother living in North Denes, Great Yarmouth, Judy has written about being forcibly taken to South Africa disguised as a boy and later left to fend for herself

Her ordeals have been captured in two books, Street Kid and her latest Nowhere to Run.

EVERYBODY thought Judy Westwater's father was virtuous and a charming spiritualist preacher but the little girl knew otherwise.

Now a grandmother living in North Denes, Great Yarmouth, Judy has written about being forcibly taken to South Africa disguised as a boy and later left to fend for herself

Her ordeals have been captured in two books, Street Kid and her latest Nowhere to Run. And the 63-year-old author says she wanted to document her experiences to give an insight into what sometimes goes on behind closed doors. She said: “My family came from Timperley in Cheshire and when I was two-years-old, our parents deserted my two older sisters Dora and Mary and myself. Mary was only seven but she looked after me. We had no food, light or coal for the fire. We were left to fend for ourselves.”

Both parents had gone off with other partners, but later the mother returned after her boyfriend finished with her.

Her father was Jack Richardson who's own mother was a staunch spiritualist and she was convinced her son had been born with a special gift.

Judy said: “He must have believed his own publicity because he was conned people out of money convincing them he could communicate with the dead.”

Her father did return to the family home and just as Judy was about to go into secondary education he took her against her will to South Africa, disguised as a boy.

They settled in Hillbrow, a suburb of Johannesburg. But once again he left her to fend for herself at the age of 12.

Judy recalled: “He went off with his new lady friend. The rent wasn't paid on the flat and the landlord's patience finally snapped, so I was thrown

out.

“I had to live in an alleyway in Johannesburg and relied on friends to have a wash. Very often my school uniform, which had a white skirt, would get dirty and I would be paraded in front of the whole school and told how disgusting my appearance was. Nobody at that school ever bothered to ask why was I dressed like that.”

At the age of 18, Judy married a stunt motorcyclist and had two children. What happened during her first turbulent marriage is chronicled in her latest book.

She remarried in 1973, this time to a mechanical engineer and had two more children.

In the late 1970s, Judy returned to the UK and worked with children's theatrical workshops and in 1987 married for a third time, but she was widowed four years later.

Today she is involved in children's charities and returns to South Africa having established the Saletins organisation which helps underprivileged children in Cape Town and another association in Hillbrow.

Nowhere to Run is published by Harper Collins at £6.99

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