Street Kid: One Child's Desperate Fight for Survival

Judy Westwater

John Peel first brought Judy's moving childhood story to light on "Home Truths". Abducted by her psychotic spiritualist father and kept like a dog in his backyard, she suffered in a Manchester orphanage run by nuns before being taken to South Africa. There she ended up living wild on the streets. Today Judy has founded 7 centres for street children. After a childhood lived in terror, in 1994, Judy was presented with an Unsung Heroes Award for her charity work with street kids in South Africa. Her moving story came to light after Judy was interviewed by John Peel on BBC's "Home Truths". "Street Kid" is the inspirational and heart wrenching story of her early years. At age two, in postwar Manchester, Judy was kept by her psychotic father - a spiritualist preacher - in a backyard where she had to scavenge from bins to survive. At four, she was sent to an extremely strict catholic orphanage, before being put back in her father's care. For the next three years, she was treated as a virtual slave. After being taken by her father to South Africa, Judy ran away to join the circus where she found her first taste of freedom and friendship. But her dad soon tracked her down and dragged her away. Only weeks later, she found herself living on the streets and struggling to survive. For nine months, 12-year-old Judy made her home in a shed behind a bottle shop before collapsing in a shop doorway from near-starvation. Finally, aged 17, she managed to pay her way back to England to find her mother and sisters. But her return to Manchester cruelly shattered her dreams of a happy reunion. Determined that her childhood experiences should in some way give meaning to her life, Judy has worked tirelessly to help homeless children in South Africa - in the very places she herself suffered. She has opened seven centres to date.