FORMER residents and abuse survivors gathered at a poignant ceremony to mark the reinstatement of headstones for hundreds of youngsters who died in the care of a Renfrewshire orphanage.

The service, at Quarrier’s Village, on the outskirts of Bridge of Weir, marked the end of a long campaign by Sandy Smith and his partner Jayne Taylor-Savery to have the headstones replaced after they inexplicably disappeared.

The pair, who were both raped at the hands of Quarriers staff as youngsters, campaigned tirelessly for the restoration of ‘lost’ gravestones marking the final resting place of 335 children who died at the home.

The Gazette:

A white rose was laid in remembrance of each of the youngsters buried at Nittingshill Cemetery between 1888 and 1971.

“For the first time in my life, I took a step back and felt proud of myself,” Sandy told The Gazette. “When the service was finished, I walked around by myself and read all the names and thought about how outstanding it was to have them back.”

READ MORE: Tragic Quarriers orphans can now rest in peace

Survivors from Sandy’s ‘Quarriers Warriors’ group and abuse victims from across the country attended the ceremony on Sunday.

It also happened to be Sandy’s 68th birthday and he said seeing the headstones in place was the perfect present.

The Gazette:

He added: “For me to be surrounded by my family, friends and everyone who has supported me on such a proud day was the perfect gift.

“There are a number of people who have supported us in our fight for justice and I can’t thank them enough.”

Nobody knows exactly how many children suffered abuse at the orphanage but it is estimated the number could run into thousands for the years between the late 19th century and the 1980s.

The Gazette:

Bosses at Quarriers have apologised to all those who were abused,

A spokesperson for the charity said: “Quarriers is delighted that improvements to Nittingshill Graveyard in Quarriers Village are now complete.

“We are very grateful to former residents and descendants who have assisted by sharing their views and memories.”

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