Valerie Storie was a remarkable woman. In August 1961, she was the lover of her much older married colleague Michael Gregsten. One evening they were sitting in Gregsten’s car, canoodling, when a man with a gun kidnapped them and instructed Gregsten to drive. Several hours later, they stopped at Deadman’s Hill, Bedfordshire where the kidnapper shot Gregsten in the head, forced her into the back of the car at gunpoint, and raped her. Afterwards he took some money off her, appeared to walk off, then turned around and emptied his gun into her.
Showing incredible presence of mind, she feigned dead until he drove off. Found early next morning, she was transported at once to hospital, but although the doctors saved her, she was paralysed from the chest down for the rest of her life.
The trial, conviction, and execution of James Hanratty did not end this sad chapter of her life. Conspiracy cranks and mischief-makers insisted on his innocence, even after DNA testing of his exhumed corpse proved he was the man who had raped Valerie and had therefore murdered Michael Gregsten. At that time, 2002, she appeared in a documentary in which she said Gregsten had been both her first true lover and her last.
Although suffering a terrible disability that has driven strong men to suicide, Valerie Storie was back at her desk in less than a year. She lived independently in her specially adapted home until her death at 77, a good age for a paraplegic. Although she retired in 1983, she remained active until the end of her life, lobbying locally for disabled people, and once said she didn’t suffer fools gladly.
She was cremated at Slough Crematorium, April 19, 2016.
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