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‘Frankly, I think I was doing pretty good risk assessments from the age of about three.’ Without being the least bit Pollyanna-ish, Anne, now 54, learned how to use her traumatic childhood experiences in the most positive way, to help others.After qualifying as a social worker, she set up one of the first interview suites to help sexually abused children talk about their experiences.‘I was recently doing some work with a youth offending team,’ she says.‘When I told them that figures showed that 85 per cent of young offenders have experienced loss, in one way or other, I was stopped by the group leader, who said she didn’t agree with my figures.Which is fortunate, because her work as a social worker, and as chief executive of children’s charity Jigsaw4u, means she’s around a lot in other people’s crises.She’s full of drive and a roll-up-her-sleeves determination to make a difference to children’s lives – as befits the winner of 2010’s Clarins Most Dynamisante Woman of the Year, in association with YOU, and its £30,000 bounty.It might be blue, because that was the hue of a mother’s eyes, or brown to remind the child of gardening together, or purple, because that was the shade their sister loved to wear.
Smartly dressed, utterly composed, eminently sensible and practical, she’s the sort of person you’d want around in a crisis.Next, Anne saw how another social taboo was affecting children hugely, one that wasn’t really being addressed by social services: grief following the death of someone close to them.So Jigsaw4u was born, the charity Anne established in 1997 to help children, young people and their families who have been touched by grief, loss and other kinds of trauma. Because they help children to put the pieces of their lives together again.Her own childhood, though, could so easily have scarred her.Growing up in Oxford, she had a mother who never stopped grieving for the two children she lost before Anne was born.
The ‘4u’ prevents confusion with other organisations of the same name (including the high-street clothing store).‘Around 20,000 children a year lose a parent,’ says Anne.