Veronica Bird was one of nine children living in a tiny house in Barnsley with a brutal coal miner for a father. Life was a despairing time in the 1950s, as Veronica sought desperately to keep away from his cruelty.
Astonishingly, to her and her mother, she won a scholarship to Ackworth Boarding School where she began to shine above her class-mates. A champion in all sports, Veronica at last found some happiness until her brother-in-law came into her life. It was as if she had stepped from the frying pan into the re: he took over control of her life removing her from the school she adored, two terms before she was due to take her GCEs, so he could put her to work as a cheap option on his market stall.
Abused for many years by these two men, Veronica eventually ran away and applied to the Prison Service, knowing it was the only safe place she could trust.
This is the astonishing, and true story of Veronica Bird who rose to become a Governor of Armley prison. Given a ‘basket case’ in another prison, contrary to all expectations, she turned it around within a year, to become an example for others to match.
During her life inside, her ‘bird’, she met many Home Secretaries, was honoured by the Queen and was asked to help improve conditions in Russian Prisons. A deeply poignant story of eventual triumph against a staggeringly high series of setbacks, her story is filled with humour and compassion for those inside.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Fascinating story of life within the British prison system An autobiography of Veronica Bird's life, with the main focus being on her time working within the British prison system, and the remarkable improvements she made to the prison service. This is an engrossing and fascinating book. Veronica was born in 1943 and was one of 9 children born into a family living in poverty. Despite a very challenging upbringing she makes a success of her life, and this is her story told with humour, and some interesting historical background. Most of Veronica's adult life was spent working within the prison service, and there is plenty here about the psychology of life in British prisons, both for the prisoners and the staff. Her inspiring story contains many eye-openers and mentions many well known prisoners. Her descriptions of prison conditions are really enlightening, and the idea of working within these establishments seems pretty nightmarish and very frightening. Veronica worked within the prison service for 35 years, in some of the harshest prisons in England, and tells her story in an interesting and fast moving manner. Wow, this is a powerful and fascinating read. Photos are included in the book. 5*s from me, as this is such an interesting story of how one woman turned disaster prisons into places of humanity. There are a lot of editorial errors in the book, which would normally knock my rating down considerably. However this is such a great book, that, to my mind, it still deserves 5*s - let's hope it gets a properly edited reprint soon.