Woman Locked Up and "Lost" for 70 Years

In 1937, when Jean Gambell was a mere 15 years old, she was wrongly accused of stealing 13 pence. Even though the money was later found, she was, nonetheless, locked up and moved from care home to care home for 70 years. It seems her family lost track of her and thought she had died – until now:

She was “found” when brothers Alan, 66, and David, 63 — who thought she was dead — read a letter sent by a care home to their mother, who died 25 years ago.

David said: “I was about to throw it in the bin when I saw a name in the corner — Jean Gambell. I rang and they said our sister was there.”

The two brothers travelled from their homes in Liverpool to see Jean at the home in Macclesfield, Cheshire. Staff warned them she was deaf and may not remember them.

David said: “We were very nervous. We wrote on a piece of card ‘Hello Jean, we’re your brothers’. But she took one look at us and said, ‘Hello Alan, hello David’ — and flung her arms around us.”

He added: “Nowadays there are appeals — but back then a doctor could sign away a life with the stroke of a pen.

“They basically locked her up and threw away the key and she was stuck in the system.

“She just got moved from one institution to another.

“What a waste of a poor, innocent girl’s life.”

Jean had a stroke after meeting her brothers, believed to have been sparked by the shock of the reunion. She is said to be recovering.

That this was a waste of an innocent girl’s life is the understatement of the year. Her life was taken from her. So, what happens now? How is the UK government going to make up for 70 lost years? I’d say this woman’s Constitutional rights were violated, but the UK doesn’t have a written Constitution that limits the government’s power or protects individual rights. Consequently, the overbearing UK government can and does intrude all over the British people just as it did in this case.

Hat tip: Freepers

More from the UK Telegraph:

She was sectioned under the 1890 Lunacy Act and even though the money was later found, she has been moved from mental institution to mental institution. More recently, she went into a care home and has been lost to her family, who thought she was dead.


“I am sure that what has kept her going all these years was the challenge of proving to the authorities that she had a family. The trouble was, nobody would listen to her.”

The brothers spent much of their childhood in orphanages because their parents were so poor. They said that they had later discovered that their father had tried for years to get Jean freed after she was put in Cranage Hall mental hospital in Macclesfield for being “of feeble mind”, but was unsuccessful because her records had been mislaid.

She spent years, lost in a maze of instutitons and care homes, trying to convince people in authority that she had a family. But nobody would believe her.

Macclesfield Social Services are now conducting an inquiry into Miss Gambell’s incarceration.

This is just unforgivable.

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