A WOMAN who inherited £250,000 at the age of six after a pensioner cut his family from his will just eight days before he died claims the money ruined her life.

Katie Loveridge, now 27, said people still assume she’s the victim of sexual abuse after she was gifted the estate.

Retired engineer Wilfred Lamb, 72, left her everything he had before he died in January 2000 – much to the fury of his family who lost a High Court challenge five years later.

Katie, now a mum-of-four, was introduced to eccentric Wilfred – a friend of her dad – at the age of four and the pair became inseparable.

But the unlikely duo made national news after Wilfred snubbed his own daughter, Josephine Shuck, and left Katie his entire estate – including 27 acres of land and a cottage.

Katie, of Kidderminster, Worcs, said: “I loved him like a granddad and he loved me like a granddaughter and that’s all there was to it.

“I was a little girl who never asked for any of this. I honestly wish I never inherited anything because the grief hasn’t been worth it.

“I don’t know what a normal life is and this has tortured me. That inheritance wasn’t worth it because it’s taken such a big part of my life.

“I’m embarrassed to leave home because I get people approaching me left, right and centre asking for money. I’ve even had boyfriends steal from my purse.

“It has wrecked my life and I’ve been in restaurants before and people have said I must have been sexually abused in order to have got the inheritance. That makes me feel disgusting and worthless.

“I finally want to set the record straight publically for the first time because I’ve had enough.”

Katie remembers becoming friends with Lamb who took an immediate liking to her and even paid for her private piano lessons.

She said: “We just struck a bond straight away and I still visit his grave every couple of weeks. I wish I could have him back.

“He was a neighbor who lived two miles away from me and my mum or dad used to take me up to him and he'd take me for ice cream and I’d sit on his tractors.

We just struck a bond straight away and I still visit his grave every couple of weeks. I wish I could have him back

“He was like my best friend and granddad rolled into one and I have many happy memories with him which I can never buy back.

“He was lonely and kind and was cut off from his family. He was just a lovely man who never ever abused me.”

Lamb died in January 2000 but daughter Josephine who had been his carer, accused Katie’s parents, Susan and Jim, of manipulating her father into changing his will.

However, this was rejected by the High Court five years later when they ruled that the will represented his “genuine wishes”.

Judge John Jarvis QC added: “I do not believe that Mr Lamb would have agreed to give away the entirety of his estate in return for a promise to look after him. He was far too strong willed and manipulative to have succumbed to such a deal.

“There is no doubt that Mr Lamb had an extremely close relationship with Katie Loveridge.

“The evidence is that he treated her as a granddaughter and regularly took her out. He clearly wanted her to go to a good school.”

The judge also said Lamb was “clearly estranged” from his family. Susan and Jim had also offered him care to save him being moved to a nursing home before he eventually died.

An earlier will had included £10,000 for Josephine until Susan wrote down Lamb’s true wishes before he died.

But little Katie had no idea about the will until she walked home from school after the legal battle when she was 11.

She said: “I was walking home and all of a sudden cameras and reporters were following me and asking what I was going to do with all the money.

“I was thinking ‘what money?’ and I was scared and confused. I didn’t know about the will or the court saga. Then I saw mum running towards me and dragging me inside.

“She explained that Wilfred had left me his estate and I remember being upset. I just knew it was Wilfred’s and why would I want his home anyway?

“All of a sudden everyone knew about it and I started getting treated differently at school. I was then the odd one out and I still feel like that to this day.

“After he died I would just spend time crying in my room. It really affected me.”

Katie said her education was badly affected and that at the age of 18 she finally inherited the estate.

However, she sold it one year later because locals had been using it as a dumping ground and the land and property were destroyed.

She had to pay the High Court legal costs to Lamb’s family which added up to £98,000 but was still left with £150,000.

Katie, who soon gave birth to her first child, now nine, decided to treat herself.

She said: “I must have gone on about 30 holidays and I took my daughter everywhere! I even took my mum and dad away and I just helped family members.

“I’ve never been a selfish person and I helped everyone I know. We went everywhere from New York to Benidorm.

“I had to get away and leave the drama of home behind. My daughter and I were just travelling from one city to another.

“But my travelling made a lot of people jealous and when I came home I was suddenly the person who stood out again.

“And nothing has changed, I feel humiliated out in public and that’s not fair.

“My dream was to live on Wilfred’s estate and carry on his farm because that’s where all my happy memories are from and I can never buy them back. But they destroyed it and I had no money to fix it up so I had to sell.”

Katie said she’s never had to work in her life and that she’s been sensible with the money and is still living comfortably.

She went on to have three more kids but still lives in her hometown close to her parents.

But she’s now a single mum after breaking up with the father of her children.

Trust me when I say, money really can’t buy happiness

And Katie is now giving her first ever interview because she’s tired of being judged by strangers.

She said: “I can’t say it enough, I was an innocent little girl who didn’t ask for anything.

“A decision somebody else made when I was six has affected the rest of my life and the money has tortured me.

“What people think is always on my mind and that really hurts. I was reading the coverage from 20 years ago recently and I just thought I had to set the record straight.

“I now have kids of my own and they are everything to me. I couldn’t cope without them.

“Sometimes I look at my children and all that pain and torture goes away ever so briefly and in that moment I feel relief.

“It’s not fair for me to be defined by that inheritance. I still get phone calls and Facebook messages from people asking for cash.

“These are the same people who accuse him of abusing me and it’s wrong because he’s not even alive to defend himself.

“For anyone reading this, please don’t judge me. I’ve done nothing wrong and I just want to live a life like anybody else and look after my family.

“Trust me when I say, money really can’t buy happiness.”

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