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Long Lost Family

  • Episode: 

    2 of 6

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Wed 10 Jun 2015
  • TX Confirmed: 

    Yes
  • Time: 

    9.00pm - 10.00pm
  • Week: 

    Week 24 2015 : Sat 06 Jun - Fri 12 Jun
  • Channel: 

    ITV
The information contained herein is strictly embargoed from all press, online and social media use, non-commercial publication, or syndication until Tuesday 2 June 2015.
 
The award-winning documentary series returns to ITV for a brand new series, as presenters Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell reunite more family members with their missing loved ones.  
 
The fifth series of the hit show promises some of its most heart-wrenching stories yet with many firsts for the show, from a couple searching together for their son, to a mother who tells us how she had to give up her child not once but twice, to a father searching for his daughter.
 
This series takes on some of the most challenging searches so far, tracking down people in countries as diverse as Canada, South Africa, Germany and Croatia.  
 
Across six new episodes, Davina and Nicky bring family members together who have been separated for most of their lives. Some have spent years desperately trying to track down their loved ones in vain.  
 
Each relative is guided and supported through the emotional process of tracing the family they are so anxious to find. Many of the 12 searches take unpredictable turns, as fathers, mothers, daughters, sons and siblings don’t always get the news they were hoping for. But whilst there are painful truths along the way, the series witnesses how being reunited with long lost family can transform people’s lives. 
 
Episode two features two stories of missed opportunities: a mother who, having given up her daughter for fostering, had the chance to have her back again, but chose for her daughter’s sake to give her up for a second time; and a man searching for the father who has missed out on over 40 years of his son’s life.
 
Christine Gillard and Margo Kearney
 
Seventy year old great-grandmother, Christine Gillard lives in Bexhill-on-Sea surrounded by her family but she is desperate to know the one person missing from her life- her eldest daughter, Marguerite.
 
Christine was only sixteen years old when she gave birth to her baby Marguerite in Glasgow, Scotland. “She was stunning, absolutely stunning…she was mine”, Christine recalls. With her father dead and her mother away in England for work, Christine had little support but she was determined that she would keep her baby. She moved in with her elderly grandmother and the three of them shared a single room tenement flat. 
 
Christine can still recall the cramped conditions as the three of them lived in one room crammed with a bed and kitchen sink; “four steps and you were at the other side of the room”. Christine worked full time in a factory to make ends meet and relied on her grandmother to help care for Marguerite. But as her daughter grew into a toddler and Christine’s grandmother grew frailer, it soon became clear the situation could not carry on as it was.
 
“It was going wrong and I couldn’t put it right”, says Christine
 
With nowhere else to turn, Christine asked Social Services for the help and they found Marguerite a home with a long-term foster family.  After two years of being her mum, Christine had to say goodbye to her daughter.
 
Although Christine went on to marry and have four more children, she never stopped thinking about her little girl. Then out of the blue, six years after she had handed her daughter over to the authorities, Christine received news that Marguerite’s foster mother had died and she was eligible to have her daughter back in her life.
 
“They (Social Services) were telling me that I could have my child back. I didn’t know what to make of it but I was very excited, I was going to see my baby again”, says Christine.
 
At the time, Christine’s marriage was failing and she was struggling financially. She questioned whether bringing her daughter back into her world would be wise. So to help her decide what would be best for Marguerite, Christine asked to have her for a weekend.
 
Christine will never forget the day she saw Marguerite, now 8 years old: “She had a little suitcase and she was all dressed up…she was the same little girl…she was my daughter.”
 
Over the course of the weekend, Christine found out more about Marguerite’s wonderful foster family. Marguerite had everything that Christine wanted for her: she was materially comfortable and more importantly she had siblings and, although she had lost her foster mother, she had a loving father and a close family unit. 
 
By the time Marguerite’s foster father came to pick her up, Christine had made up her mind. Putting her own feelings aside, she knew that the best thing for her daughter would be for her to stay with her foster family.
 
“Sometimes you’ve just got to do things for love…whether its decisions that hurt and that was real hurt. I never saw her again.” 
 
When Long Lost Family took up the search we found Marguerite (now called Margo) living in Northern Ireland. Nicky travels to Derry-Londonderry where Margo lives with her husband, Thomas.
 
So excited to hear that her mother has come to find her, Margo is utterly overwhelmed to hear about the difficult decision that her mother had to make.
 
“It took a good woman to do that...it took someone with a heart of gold,” says Margo.
 
Margo tells Nicky what happened after Christine gave her back to her foster family all those years before.  She explains that tragically, only two years after the death of her foster mother, her foster father also died, leaving Margo and her siblings as orphans.  “I was put into a home…it was scary…I had nobody in the world”.
 
But Margo also explains that it was her fantastic foster family who gave her the foundation to cope with those difficult years.  
 
When Nicky shows her a photo of Christine, she is hugely moved:  “All them years I haven’t been able to say mum, but now I can say truly you are my mother”
 
With mixed emotions, Davina travels to Bexhill-on-Sea to meet Christine and tell her the difficult news- that her daughter’s life did not turn out the way she had hoped.
 
It is clear that the news is devastating for Christine, however Davina is able to reassure her that Margo went on to have a good life and is hugely grateful for the sacrifice her mother made. Christine’s spirits rise when Davina hands her a photo of Margo today. She kisses it and holds it tight to her heart. 
 
Mother and daughter finally meet for the first time in nearly 50 years, at Pollock House, a stately home just outside of Glasgow. As soon as they set eyes on each other the pair embrace and Christine tells Margo “I’m your mum”. 
 
“We are always going to be together,” says Christine.
 
Robert Lindsay and Mladen Durdevic
 
Forty one year old family man, Robert Lindsay is searching for his father, who he has never met. 
 
Robert lives in Kilmarnock, Scotland with his wife Lesley and their baby son. He also has two sons from his previous marriage who live with him for half the week. 
 
Being a dad is the most important part of Robert’s life: “The best thing about being a dad is when your kids tell you they love you” he says.
 
Robert was brought up by his mother and grandparents and although he had a very happy childhood and a close relationship with his mother, he realises now, as a father himself, just how much he missed not having a dad in his life. Robert has never met his father or even seen a photo him.
 
Growing up Robert’s mother would often comment upon how much he looked like his father but without anything tangible to hold onto, Robert always felt his father was almost like a character in a storybook, rather than a real person. 
 
Robert’s parents had met in London in the early 1970s, when Mary was working as an au pair and his father, a young Yugoslavian man called Mladen Durdevic was working at a hotel. 
 
“My mum always spoke positively about him and I think he meant a lot to my mum”.
 
When Mary discovered she was pregnant at only eighteen years old she decided she needed to return home to Kilmarnock to be with her parents.  
 
Robert has never known exactly what happened or why the relationship didn’t continue. His only clue is a letter written by his father to his mother after she’d returned to Scotland. Mladen tells Mary that he hasn’t heard from her and that he too is returning home to Yugoslavia. He signs the letter ‘Fool Boy’. Robert has only ever been able to speculate about what this means: “perhaps he felt a fool for not being able to make it work”. Sadly it’s the last contact that his parents ever had and he has never heard from his father since. 
 
Ten years ago two events collided for Robert that meant his need to find his father really hit home-his mother died of cancer just a few months before his first son was born. It made Robert take account of his life and think not only about his role as a father but also what it would mean to have a father in his life. 
 
“It is important to have a parent that you can tell that you love and to be loved…no matter what age you are,” says Robert.
 
Robert is keenly aware that it has been a long time for both him and his father,  “He has missed my whole life…where do you start?”
 
When Long Lost Family took up the trail, it led us to Croatia (former Yugoslavia) and we discovered Mladen Durdevic living in the city of Split. 
 
Nicky travels to Split to hear Mladen’s story. Mladen expresses sadness and frustration about the fact that he has missed out on Robert’s life so far.
 
He describes the last time he saw Mary and how he tried to write to her but with no reply. He believed that she had moved on without him and signed his letter “Fool Boy” because she had “made a fool” of him.
 
Nicky tells Mladen how much Robert has longed to see him and produces two photos of Robert. For Mladen, who has never seen his son, the gravity of the situation takes hold.
 
“When you see after a long time, it makes you something like near cry…its like something is missing in your life”, he says.
 
Mladen seems to light up with excitement at the thought of finally meeting Robert. 
 
“This will be a fantastic day…happiness on his side and on my side”
 
When Davina travels to Scotland to tell Robert that his father has been found, Robert can finally put a face to the father he has only been able to imagine for 41 years. 
 
“I spent my whole life saying I don’t know my dad…I feel like my life has changed in two minutes”
 
Robert makes the journey to Split with his wife Lesley to meet his father for the first time and visit the country that is part of his heritage.
 
Mladen tells Robert his fears over having missed so much of his son’s life, “[it is] like I don’t have any right to you”, he says. But Robert reassures him that he is who he is “because of you.”
 
Robert shows Mladen a photo of his family, Mladen’s grandsons. Mladen is mesmerized seeing the next generation of his family.
 
At last the pair can plan a way to move forward as father and son. 
 
“Today I’ve taken a huge step towards knowing who I am and who my family are”, says Robert. “That’s the beginning of a new life” adds Mladen.