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On a rainy day in Lincoln in 1935, a young assistant curate called Chad Varah led the grieving family of a 14-year-old girl through a series of soggy open fields to a plot of unconsecrated ground beyond the churchyard.
The child had taken her own life in a fit of shame and terror at the sight of her first menstrual blood.
Mourners - Graveside - Shelter - Compassionate - Corpse
As the mourners left the graveside to seek shelter, the compassionate cleric stood alone above the corpse and said: ‘Little girl, I never knew you, but you have changed my life.
In an interview shortly before his death aged 95 in 2007, Varah said he hoped he would be remembered as Britain’s first sex therapist.
Founder - Samaritans - World - Telephone - Helpline
But we know him better as the founder of the Samaritans: the world’s first telephone helpline, offering an anonymous listening ear to the lonely and desperate, giving people permission to voice fear, shame, grief, rage, sorrow and secrets they might never speak aloud in other contexts.
The things we find ‘unspeakable’ are the subject of Harriet Shawcross’s fascinating book. As a journalist, she has made a career of exposing truths. Yet, as a child, she found her words drying up.
Girls - School - Day - Students - Boarders
It happened as she turned 13 and moved to a posh girls’ school, as one of only three day students among nearly 100 boarders in her year.
Shawcross took these words to heart and her home life became ‘a guilty secret’.
Things - Father
Things got worse when her father was...
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