About the Book
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 fire: 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.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.
I rarely read non-fiction, in honesty I can’t remember the last I read but I liked the sound of Veronica’s Bird. It didn’t disappoint.
From an early age Veronica was aware that if she wanted a better life then it was up to her to do it. Despite having an abusive and aggressive father and a controlling, ignorant brother-in-law she managed it. Proving that she had guts, that she wasn’t afraid of hard work and showing that everybody had respect for her.
I felt that she was a loner. Her own family were distant from her, but she was close to people she worked with. Some of the prisons she worked at I hadn’t heard of, and I found myself looking at them on google. I hadn’t realised there were so many, or how many people could be in them at any time.I hadn’t thought how close-knit the community could be. Either between those who worked in the prisons or about how ‘friendship’ or at the very least, respect given towards the men and women who were incarcerated.
Veronica talks about how working in the prisons changed during her thirty-five career, not always for the better. She talks about how supportive some members of the Royal Family were and about the attitudes from Members of Parliament and the media. Some of the prisoners who were in her care were common names, Myra Hindley was one. Others, again, I was looking at on google and I wondered how she felt towards them now.
This novel has demonstrated to me that a career within the prison service isn’t for me, nor going to certain parts of Russia.