Monday, October 1, 2007

The Jean Gambell Story

Jamie at Eye of Polyphemus links to this story.

Jean Gambell, 85, was “certified” indefinitely in 1937 over claims she had taken the cash while cleaning at a doctor’s surgery.

The money was found — but Jean still spent 70 years in a maze of care institutions.

Here are some details:

Jean, who lived on the Wirral, was ordered to be detained indefinitely in Cranage Hall, Crewe, - half a crown - went missing from the surgery in 1937.

Allegations of theft led doctors to describe her as 'of feeble mind'.

The money was eventually found but by then it was too late. David said: "Nowadays there are reviews and appeals, but back then a doctor could sign away a life with the stroke of a pen - it's a terrible waste."

The two brothers were allowed to visit her over the years but she was subsequently moved to numerous care homes across the North-West, making it hard for them to stay in touch.

Fast forward several decades:

She was “found” when brothers Alan, 66, and David, 63 — who thought she was dead — read a letter sent by a care home to their mother, who died 25 years ago.

David said: “I was about to throw it in the bin when I saw a name in the corner — Jean Gambell. I rang and they said our sister was there.”

So Jean met her brothers, but:

Jean had a stroke after meeting her brothers, believed to have been sparked by the shock of the reunion. She is said to be recovering.

In some respects, this is even sadder than the Vincenzo Riccardi story. Riccardi was discovered over a year after his death. Jean Gambell wasn't discovered for seventy years, despite the fact that she was still alive.

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