The Woman Who Fell from Grace; Will Marriage Bring Happiness at Last for the Teacher Whose Career Was Ruined by an Affair with a 15-Year-Old Schoolboy?

Daily Mail (London), July 27, 2000 | Go to article overview

The Woman Who Fell from Grace; Will Marriage Bring Happiness at Last for the Teacher Whose Career Was Ruined by an Affair with a 15-Year-Old Schoolboy?


Byline: HELEN WEATHERS

FAR from the lavish ceremony her family might once have expected, Lucy Hayward's wedding in four weeks' time will be a humble affair; a simple register office service followed by an informal reception at her three-bedroom terraced home in Shropshire.

Her marriage to Stephen Paxford, at 27 five years her junior, will be celebrated by just 20 or so of their closest friends and family. Those who have not quietly disassociated themselves from her, that is.

The guests will not include Lucy's wealthy father who has virtually disowned her, nor the well-connected family of her late mother Ann, a former debutante and the niece of Lord Poole.

There will be no chums from [pounds sterling]12,000 a-year Millfield public school in Somerset where she was educated, nor any of her old teacher colleagues who once happily shared coffee with her in the staffroom before her name became inextricably linked with the worst kind of disgrace for a woman in her profession.

For Lucy Hayward, 32, lost more than just her job when she embarked on a scandalous six-month affair with a 15-year-old schoolboy almost three years ago. She lost her reputation, her freedom, and very nearly the custody of her two young daughters. Jailed for two years by Shrewsbury magistrates after admitting indecent assault of a minor, possession of cannabis and allowing the drug to be smoked on her premises, the former English and RE teacher was released on July 17, 1999 - after serving 12 months - to pick up the pieces of a shattered life.

Even though the dust has settled, it is a life far removed from the one she might have been expected to follow given her privileged upbringing - but, as we shall see, the effects of a dysfunctional family are often more devastating than many care to admit.

Lucy's deeply unsettled childhood sent her into a downward spiral of rebellion and unhappiness well before she fell for the teenager and, even though she would disagree, it is debatable whether she will ever really get back on track.

Today, the most significant legacy of her fall from grace are undeniably her daughters Amy, now 12, and Daisy, four - from two previous relationships.

Already Amy is facing teasing from classmates, and shrinks at the mention of her mother's very public humiliation.

'When I look back I think: "How could I have got involved with a 15-year-old?" Sometimes I am tortured by the question and I have to stop it overwhelming me because I want something positive to come out of this. I just wasn't the same person I am now,' says Lucy.

Her fiance is one of the few people who stood by her in the wake of the scandal but, currently unemployed, he is hardly the kind of man to win back the favour of her father.

'If my father had his way I would be a successful lawyer living in a nice house in the suburbs,' says Lucy, 'but I never felt comfortable in that circle. I've dated a viscount and what you would call "nice" men from upper-middle-class backgrounds, but I find that world shallow.

Stephen is a real man, who loves me for who I am and not what I've done.'

It is no surprise that they feel comfortable with each other. Like Lucy, Stephen - the son of a baker - comes from a broken family. He saw his parents' marriage break up when he was 14, and now has no contact with his father - although he remains close to his mother, who will attend the wedding.

He lost his virginity at 14 to the 40-year-old stepmother of a girlfriend and ran away from home at 15 to become a trawlerman, before working in London for a cable company.

Like Lucy he craves the stable family life he felt was lacking.

THEIR marriage may be a last chance for happiness, because there was little for Lucy to salvage following the lurid - and she says exaggerated - details which emerged of her affair with the schoolboy; a disturbing tale of 'cannabis smoking parties' with which she 'lured' to her house a group of teenage boys - not pupils from her school. …

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