Uo­to­ri­ous pris­oner is gran’s new pen pal

Glossop Advertiser - - News - Paul Brit­ton

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

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