New calls for official apology to Scottish Travellers

4 November 2014
Book cover

The publication last week of Never to Return, The Harrowing True Story of a Stolen Childhood by Sandy Reid has prompted a renewed call for an official apology from the Scottish Government to Scotland’s travelling community.

The heartbreaking tale of the life of a child snatched from his family, Never to Return tells how, in the dead of night, authorities swooped on a tinker camp and took Sandy Reid and his sister Maggie into care. Sandy was just one year old and he would never see his mother again.

 Now Sandy’s story has prompted Jess Smith, an author and traditional storyteller from Scotland’s Perthshire Travelling people, to renew her call for an apology from the Scottish Government, similar to that given to the Aborigines by the Australian authorities.

 She said, “After a report undertaken in 1895 by Sir Charles Cameron in the City Chambers in Glasgow aimed to educate the rural poor and deal with tinkers and vagrants in Scotland, many of my people were forcibly removed from their camp sites and put into industrial institutions.


“Some were given to childless couples and also sent to Australia – boys of 12 and over were sent to the armed forces, girls sent into service. Night censuses were undertaken which resulted in forced removal. Those left grew up in a land where fear of law, church and authority was the norm.


“Scotland cannot afford to harbour racism but sad to say it is a cancer which eats her from within. We are almost extinct as a culture but there is still enough who would see a healing if we were recognised as individuals.


“I hope and pray that Sandy’s book will help resolve this issue. We have to set the record straight. Sandy and other travellers have been living in a bubble of fear and deprivation on a daily basis and this book could help them. If it helps these poor people then Sandy had touched their souls – that’s what this book can do and that’s more important than anything else.”

 Never To Return is the shocking story of how a child’s life was destroyed and of a stolen generation, snatched in the night and forbidden from seeing their families. It’s also the story of how one boy endured terrible hardship and deprivation and how he survived against all odds.

An important story of one boy and a stolen generation, Never to Return, The Harrowing True Story of a Stolen Childhood by Sandy Reid is published by Black & White in paperback at £7.99 on 23rd October.

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