Letters, November 28, 2013, Part Two

Thanks to church for taking babies

SIR – I read your article ‘Face to face with the real Philomena’ (Herts Advertiser, November 7) very carefully, albeit tongue in cheek. Your deplorable lamenting of the Catholic Church on her behalf, I found unacceptable. I am not myself a Catholic but I would like people to know that, but for them who cared for me as a very young and extremely delicate child, I probably would not be here. My mother at this time was struggling to raise 11 children on her own. She was legally separated from my father, who was a heavy drinker as was quite usual in the East End of London where I was born. Although my mother herself was not a Catholic, nevertheless it did not stop the church from sustaining the family, there being, of course, at that time in the 1930s during the Great Depression, no benefits whatsoever for the poor. Unemployment was rife and daily soup kitchens were set up by the government to alleviate people’s hunger. The church was very instrumental during this dire period in doing all they could for the desperately poor people in their parish. I noted in this article about Philomena Lee that it was the church and not her family who cared for her and the baby. In her own words she tells us about meeting a young man at a carnival: “He came over and we started talking and we did the deed! I knew nothing about sex, it was never discussed”, she goes on to say... but did she not sense at this time that what she was doing was morally wrong? Sex was not discussed in my day either. What would she have done without the support of her church and what sort of life would her child have had without their intervention in finding a loving home for the little one? Agreed, the Catholic church has been too forgiving in the past of their transgressors and need now to get their house in order but please don’t keep blaming them for that which people bring on themselves. In a book soon to be published ‘On Looking Back’ of which I am the author, I’m compelled to present the other side of the picture... the reason why I’m still living; all due to the love and care of the Catholic church, the institution that you describe as corrupt and outmoded! I just hope that the church can find it in their hearts to forgive this woman who so castigates them as she truly “bites the hand of those who fed her”. I certainly wouldn’t describe her as a forgiving person but as a rather spiteful one and I think we should indeed thank the churches (Salvation Army included) for taking, to a large degree, this terrible burden of single mothers, off the state’s shoulders especially at the present time when we are economically almost on our knees. So no, I will not be shedding any tears over this woman who you so acclaim. I think that she should thank God that ultimately, she was able to bring some order into her life and blessed with a legitimate family to support and love. Regarding her complaint that the church made her feel very ashamed because of her predicament, I know that had she belonged to my family, my unstable father would have beaten her to an inch of her life before throwing her out, so perhaps she should be very thankful.

ELIZABETH DUMPLETON Wilstone Drive, St Albans

Home offers care and compassion

SIR – My husband has been a patient in Houndswood House (‘Care home rapped for not meeting national standards’, Herts Advertiser, October 24) since March 2012 and I feel I must write of my experience. The staff are good-humoured and patient beyond belief and in fact, they are often abused. Three people are needed to get my husband up, cleaned and dressed each day and he and a few others have to be transported by hoist, again manned by three staff, often for unproductive toilet trips. Several patients call out repeatedly and endlessly the same phrase and when calmed by a staff member, start up again immediately after. It is impossible to give them full-time attention. Of course I want the very best standard of care for my husband and all the patients and vigilance is important but visiting daily as I do, I see that the staff are meeting the huge physically-tiring tasks with good humour. Sometimes patients, including my husband, who cannot understand, will fight off very sharply any attempt to clean or dress them and there is a fine edge between well-meaning physical pressure and abuse. In conclusion, I have been pleased with the care, however flawed, that my husband has received in this sad and difficult situation and while I am not in a position to judge fully standards of medical care and hygiene, would say that compassion and kindness are of prime importance and these are shown in abundance.

MRS OLIVE POSNER Meadowcroft, St Albans

Grateful thanks

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SIR – May I say through your columns a big thank you on behalf of my husband and myself to the gentleman who stopped his car and rang for an ambulance when I had a fall in Mayne Avenue on Saturday, November 2. I should also like to include the ambulance crew and doctors and nurses at Watford A&E department who were superb. Thank you all once again.

MRS VF LEWIS Augustus Close, St Albans

SIR – I am writing to say a huge thank you to Maureen and her lovely lad for returning my lost precious bags and even more precious contents. The pictures in my camera of laying wreaths at our memorial service on Remembrance Sunday could not be replaced. My gratitude knows no bounds, also to Gill and Pat for their support in my distress. Thank you so very much indeed.

MRS JOYCE LINTILL Shenley Lane, St Albans

Where was Kerry during hustings?

SIR – Not everyone found Kerry Pollard to be a “true constituency MP”. My own experience was that he was not good at answering his constituents’ letters. Most disappointingly, in 2005 he failed to turn up to the election hustings, hosted by the Abbey. He absented himself from an important and rare opportunity for his constituents to ask him questions because he said he preferred to go out for a meal with his family (it being his birthday). So much for being accountable. The electorate expressed their opinion the following week and he has not been our MP since.

ANDREW MYERS Cunningham Avenue, St Albans

No comment is no help to anyone

SIR – Newspaper journalists and PR professionals have something of a symbiotic relationship. One cannot survive without the other. There is a significant responsibility on the part of both to ensure the delivery of accurate, informative and timely news to the public. To do this consistently, however, journalists require companies to be responsive and there’s an onus on the PR representative to make sure this happens. When it doesn’t, nobody benefits. In fact, it could have the reverse effect. A bland, vacuous statement or worse, “no comment”, simply tells the newspaper and its readers that a company can’t be bothered. Not only is this a false economy, it’s a cardinal sin for communicators. So, from one PR to another, as well as a plea to those companies that do not employ a professional consultant, your local newspaper is an opportunity to be heard and build your profile, so make it count.

STUART BROOKS Blackbird Communications, St Albans