WHEN Maureen Green's mother sent her to a mental hospital at the age of 16, it was not because Maureen was crazy, but to protect her chastity.

At 15, Maureen had found herself a job in a pub and struck up a friendship with a black man. Her mother reacted swiftly.

Maureen, now 54, of Stoke Row, near Wallingford, was at the institution, known as Borocourt Hospital, for 33 years to protect her from men and to give her a proper education.

And she feels no anger or bitterness towards her mother, who, she felt, was only trying to do the best thing for her.

She admits she is 'backward' but although she goes about life with a simple approach, Maureen is not mentally unstable.

Maureen was illiterate when she arrived as a day patient at what was formerly known as an asylum and was sent to work in the hospital, checking packets of condoms.

"They got condoms from the factory and we had to test them to see if they were lubricated by touching them. I felt very uncomfortable and I thought it was strange.

"It didn't upset me, but it did remind me of sex and I had been sent there to protect my chastity," said Maureen, who is still a virgin. Maureen's mother, who died last November, had very Victorian views according to Maureen's retired brother Eric, and decided her daughter should go to the institution for protection.

"I don't feel bitter for being put in the hospital because I don't know what would have happened to me if I hadn't. I think that perhaps I would have liked to have married.

"I was taught to read and write when I was in Borocourt and there were a few more in there like me but some were in there permanently," said Maureen.

She left Borocourt five years ago after 33 years along with others who were released into the community.

Now Borocourt Hospital, renamed Wyfold Court, is being converted into flats and is currently undergoing renovation.

Maureen did not feel a prisoner and doesn't harbour any resentment against the hospital.

She was educated, taken into employment and was given pocket money by the League of Friends.

"I had got a job in a pub after leaving school at 15 and I got mixed up with fellas so I was put in Borocourt Hospital.

"I had been friends with a black man and my mother wasn't happy about it, but I think I was just looking for a father figure because mine died when I was younger," said Maureen, who now lives on her own in the village, just a few miles away from the institution.

She had a male friend at the hospital for ten years, but it wasn't a physical relationship.

"A lot of us had boyfriends but mine was more of a friend really. He used to be a day patient. People didn't approve because he had epileptic fits, but he was not as backward as I was. "It was more of a friendly thing than sexual, but my mother still didn't approve," she said.

"I am still a virgin and I think I will remain one. I have missed out on having children, but I don't think I will meet anyone now."

She lives in a little bungalow in the village and depends on her £65 a week disability allowance and £13.10 mobility allowance.

She isn't entitled to a pension because she didn't pay any national insurance or tax while in the institution.

"I don't find it too much of a struggle at the moment and I enjoy living here and feel safe.

"My family are all near by and are only a telephone call away. I only keep in touch with one former patient, but she lives in Bath."

Her brother Eric lives nearby and is still close to Maureen. He said: "I think Borocourt Hospital had to close. People have got to come into the community and not be locked away.

"They are no different to us. It was sad when they were shoved out into the community because some people had been in there for so long.

"But I think they look after themselves well after being integrated into the community."

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