Uotorious prisoner is gran’s new pen pal
ADISABLED pensioner who was battered and left for dead by robbers is rebuilding her life – with the help of Britain’s most notorious prisoner Charles Bronson.
The high-security inmate has been writing and sending paintings to Barbara Dransfield, 64, after he read about her ordeal from solitary confinement at Wakefield Prison in Yorkshire.
The pair spoke over the phone for the first time after Bronson’s fiancée, former soap actress Paula Williamson, visited Barbara’s home in Ashton to hand £1,000 in cash to her.
Bronson, 64, who has changed his name to Charles Salvador, even serenaded Barbara with a version of Louis Armstrong’s 1967 classic ‘What a Wonderful World’, reducing the gran-ofthree to tears.
The sum was raised after the convicted armed robber, now an accomplished artist, auctioned off a series of paintings to raise money for Barbara and her family to spend on a trip away.
Barbara says Bronson’s words of support and encouragement in his correspondence are motivating her as she continues her recovery.
The former barmaid, who has a prosthetic leg, was subjected to a vicious beating at the hands of Nathan Clark and Stephen Mortin, who burst into her home with a baseball bat and a knife.
They demanded money as Barbara sat in her wheelchair and left her with a fractured skull, multiple facial fractures and injuries to her arms.
She was on life support and had almost every single bone in her face broken in July last year, but is now slowly recovering and receiving counselling as Clark and Mortin begin jail sentences.
Barbara said she received a letter and a drawing from Bronson out of the blue before the family learned that the Charles Salvador Art Foundation had pledged to auction off artwork for her
His first note, received after she was released from hospital, reads: ‘So, so pleased you’re feeling a little better. It will take time to get back to your old self’.
Barbara said: “It took a few weeks for it to sink in, then I wrote to him and that’s where the correspondence began. There are at least a dozen messages and cards and I even got flowers and chocolates at Christmas.”
Dubbed ‘Britain’s most violent prisoner’, Bronson has spent more than 40 years of his life behind bars.
The convicted armed robber has been in jail almost continuously since 1974 and is infamous for taking hostages and attacking prison guards and other inmates.
Barbara said the unlikely friendship is helping her.
She is even planning to display all his artwork on a wall in her living room – ‘Charlie’s wall’.
Bronson spoke to Barbara over the phone as a surprise.
“Let me tell you some- thing,” he said. “You have got to move on and forget about them two.
“You are a lovely wonderful lady and in our eyes you are a survivor.”
Barbara said: “It was just like talking to a neighbour and he was lovely.
“He has never hurt a child or a woman, never murdered anyone. I nearly died and in my eyes, the attack was far worse than anything Charles has done.”
Barbara Dransfield with Bronson’s fiancee, Paula Williamson, above and left, a card from Bronson to Barbara