Sixty Second Interview with Sandra Brown

Sixty Second Interview with Sandra Brown

By Amy Taylor

Last week Sandra Brown, a daughter of an alleged child sex offender who set up an organisation to tackle child abuse, received an OBE. Brown created The Moira Anderson Foundation in 2000 with the proceeds from a book she wrote, entitled ‘Where There is Evil,’ which is about discovering her father was a paedophile. She received her OBE for services to child protection in Scotland.

Where does the name of your organisation come from?

The organisation is named after a little girl, Moira Anderson, 11, who disappeared from my home town of Coatbridge, Scotland, in 1957, and who has been missing almost 50 years. She was a neighbour. Our community was profoundly affected by the disappearance. You could say she was the Sarah Payne of her day.

What made you decide to set it up?

I became convinced about my father’s involvement with a paedophile ring and believe he was a member. I wrote my bestselling book when all other avenues seemed barred to myself and to Moira’s sister Janet who has campaigned with me to have the case upgraded from a missing persons enquiry to murder. I had been head of childcare in a college, and a former primary depute, and I was horrified when I saw how little support is in place for children or young people who disclose sexual abuse and appalled at how few cases reach court.

What kind of services does your organisation provide?

We offer therapeutic support across Scotland through a wide pool of highly experienced practitioners, to families and to individuals who are affected. We also offer the use of a safe house for clients who need a refuge before, during, or after trials or just purely for a breathing space. We opened it in 2002. Last year it was used by 26 families and we believe it is the first of its kind in Britain. We are also a training organisation with close links to Protective Behaviours UK, a charity which advocates a highly successful programme on personal safety. We also have links with the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, Diana Lamplugh being one of our patrons who helped me establish the charity in 2000.

Do you think child sex abuse is on the increase or do you think that is just more likely to be reported these days compared to in the past?

No, sexual abuse has always been prevalent. Society, though, is getting a bit
better at listening to kids, and we provide specialised training on speaking up if you have a worry, advocating the messages and strategies of Protective Behaviours. We have now supported around 500 families across Scotland. In the past year we have seen an increase of 120% in young males under 25 using the service we provide, which is encouraging. So many young guys bottle this particular problem up, and some become suicide statistics for sure.

How does it feel to have received an OBE?

Brilliant! I was thrilled to be nominated and then voted as the Scotswoman of the
Year 2005, but this is the icing on the cake, and a great honour especially falling on the Queen’s 80th birthday celebrations. The O.B.E. can only raise the profile of
The Moira Anderson Foundation further, and what’s quite amazing is the timing. August will see my solo show about Moira’s story “One of Our Ain” which I performed in London’s Soho Theatre, go to the Edinburgh Fringe to the Underbelly Theatre – with its strong messages on child protection- and will coincide with the launch of an updated version of my bestseller “Where There is Evil” by Pan Macmillan. There will also be filming of a documentary, too, for the “Unsolved” series for STV. Remarkable, positive events, and now I will be going to Buckingham Palace too….it’s amazing, and I’m very proud of the work I have done to be given this accolade for the charity and for me. It ensures Moira will never be forgotten. Perhaps OBE stands for Only Believe Enough!

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