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Long Lost Family team returns to Belfast man

News Letter logo News Letter 13/09/2021 Claire Cartmill
a group of people posing for the camera © Foundlings Helen and David with there new found brother John

Over the 10 years that Long Lost Family has been on air, the team has carried out many remarkable searches and brought viewers some emotional reunions.

Perhaps their most extraordinary investigations have involved the 30 foundlings who have contacted the programme over the past four years.

These people were abandoned as babies and had little to go on when it came to finding out about their pasts. However, through a combination of DNA testing and detective work, many of them have discovered their identities.

In this special episode of Long Lost Family: Born Without Trace, Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell find out why, for some people, learning who they are is just the beginning of the story. The episode re-introduces viewers to David McBride, who in 1962 was wrapped in a shawl, placed in a tartan bag and left in the front seat of a car on the outskirts of Belfast.

In 2019, David shared his thoughts on his start to life, saying: “I’m sad that it happened. I’m sad for myself… but I’m also sad for my mother because it must have been heart-breaking for her.”

Meanwhile, Helen Ward was left six years after David on the other side of the Irish border, in Dundalk, in a telephone box – and also in a tartan bag.

Despite the similarities in their stories, it seemed no one had connected the two foundlings, until the Long Lost Family search team used DNA to establish that they were full brother and sister.

Nicky and Davina broke the news to Helen and David, who met for the first time next to the border that had separated them while they were growing up. Helen described it as a miracle, yet the story was about take another twist.

As Davina says: “We thought the case of David and Helen was solved, but incredibly, new information keeps coming to light that we could never have imagined.”

The update reveals that the team were later able to identify their birth parents, who are both sadly deceased. It emerged that David and Helen were born out of a forbidden relationship that spanned decades, and they also have multiple half-siblings on their birth father’s side.

Helen reflects on her mother’s life, saying: “It must have taken a huge amount of thought to have to give us up for the man she loved, but that was perhaps her only way.”

But when the cameras catch up with her and David for this programme, she also mentions that she’s heard rumours of another Irish foundling discovered in the 1960s, and wonders whether there could be a connection.

To find out more, the team meet journalist Paul Murphy, who lived in Drogheda in the 1960s. When he was 21, he found a baby in a telephone box, left in a holdall bag with a warm bottle of milk. The story made headline news, and Paul says: “The baby’s image has never left me.”

The similarities to Helen’s story are striking – could their parents have been forced to leave another infant?

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