THE Sunday Post’s investigation into the Smyllum children’s home was central to our recognition as Scotland’s Newspaper of the Year.
The judges at the Scottish Press Awards praised our paper’s “steady evolution from being a comforting presence to a hard-hitting publication not afraid to present its readers with some unpalatable truths. ”
They added: “There can be no better illustration of that than its exposure of the horrors which took place at the Smyllum Park Orphanage… the judges felt that such was the strength of the paper’s treatment of the story that it deserved the top accolade this evening.”
Our revelations surrounding the Lanarkshire children’s home were harrowing and heart-breaking, and finally allowed living victims the chance to share their stories.
It was also a chance to remember the forgotten dead, many of whom were buried with no memorial in a mass grave.
The story received the Scoop of the Year award, and also Front Page of the Year.
Reporter Gordon Blackstock, who worked tirelessly on the story, also received the Reporter of the Year and Journalist of the Year accolades.
In September 2017, we first revealed that 400 children who died at the Lanarkshire orphanage were buried in a single unmarked grave.
Our research revealed that hundreds of children died at Smyllum – far more than the charity that ran it had admitted.
Former residents accused the nuns and staff who ran the home of beating and neglecting some of the children, and their allegations formed part of the campaign that inspired the ongoing Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry.
The hard work of the Sunday Post team brought the story to national and worldwide attention, with many more victims coming forward.
Some families of loved ones who died at Smyllum, which opened in 1864, told us they had no idea where they were buried until our investigation.
Weeks after the story was published, the religious order which ran the orphanage finally promised a memorial to mark the lives lost.
The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry started its second phase at the end of November, and Judge Lady Smith turned her attention to Smyllum.
The hearings were harrowing for those who gave evidence, with some in the seats open to the public weeping as former child residents – most now pensioners – described growing up in the home.
In December, we also carried the story of the family of the last child to die while in care at Smyllum, who broke their silence to demand answers about her death.
The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry continues, and the children of Smyllum must always be remembered.