Press Centre

Long Lost Family

  • Episode: 

    6 of 7

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Wed 30 Aug 2017
  • TX Confirmed: 

    Yes
  • Time: 

    9.00pm - 10.00pm
  • Week: 

    Week 35 2017 : Sat 26 Aug - Fri 01 Sep
  • Channel: 

    ITV
The information contained herein is embargoed from press use, commercial and non-commercial reproduction and sharing into the public domain until Tuesday 22 August 2017.
 
Series overview
 
Award-winning documentary series Long Lost Family returns to ITV for a brand new seven-part series, as presenters Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell reunite more family members desperate to find their missing relatives.
 
For thousands of people across Britain, someone is missing from their lives and finding them can seem like an impossible task. Using every technique, from DNA technology to painstaking detective work, the series traces people that no-one else could find, uncovering family secrets and finally answering questions that have haunted entire lives. 
 
With searches extending to Nigeria, Ethiopia, America and Australia, no stone is left unturned as Davina and Nicky bring families back together. 
 
Sadly, not every story can have a happy ending and there are some tragic outcomes. But even when missing family members have passed away, our searchers have been comforted by meeting other family members we’ve discovered. 
 
The new series includes many firsts, including the programme’s first deaf contributor and the first time we’ve ever taken on a search on behalf of a  birth father searching on his own for a child who was given up for adoption. 
 
Episode 6
 
Episode Six features two stories of childhood loss: a daughter whose only link to her father is a letter and a woman searching for her twin sisters after more than 60 years apart. 
 
Laura Aker lives on the east coast of Scotland, just a few streets away from where she grew up. Laura was raised by her Scottish mother and the man she thought was her father but as she reached her teens, Laura began to wonder if he treated her differently. Laura asked her mother if he was her real dad and she replied no. 
 
Laura’s mum Susan revealed that Laura’s real father was called Andrew Olum Ekpang. Andrew was from Nigeria and had met Susan in Scotland training in the Navy. Susan became pregnant, but before Laura was born, Andrew’s training came to an end and he had to return to Nigeria, over 3,000 miles away. Andrew wrote to Susan from Nigeria and in the letter he promised he would come back and see his daughter. Laura has always wondered why he did not keep that promise. 
 
For many years Laura tried to bury her feelings about her father, but when Laura was in her twenties, her mum became terminally ill. Laura asked her mum for her dad’s address and her mum gave it to her. But in the aftermath of her mum’s death, Laura didn’t feel able to reach out to her father. 
Laura says “Maybe he doesn’t want to be a part of my life, maybe he got married and had other children, and I could be a big secret that he has kept.”. 
Now, nearly 40 years after her father left, Laura is determined to find him.  
 
We started our search for Andrew Olum Ekpang by writing to the address that Laura’s mother had given her, but Long Lost Family received no reply. We then focused on social media sites but with no results coming up we decided to play around with the spelling and that’s when something caught our eye. We came across a post from a man called Nten to his mother: Mrs Clara Andrew Olom Ekpang. This was the same name as Laura’s father apart from the spelling of Olom. 
Crucially Nten lived in the same state that Laura’s father was from. Further enquiries confirmed that Nten was Andrew’s son. Long Lost Family had found Laura’s father.
Nicky contacted Nten to find out if Andrew, known as Andy, is willing to come to Scotland and finally meet his daughter. Nten explains to Nicky that Andrew was very happy to be found and that the dream he had of meeting his daughter is becoming a reality. 
Long Lost Family made arrangements for Andy and Nten to travel from Nigeria to the UK but then we received some terrible news. A week before they were due to travel, Andy collapsed and had to be hospitalised. It was touch and go whether he would be well enough to fly. After 3 weeks, we got the all clear from Andy’s doctor. Nicky goes to meet Andrew and Nten at the airport. 
Davina travels to Laura’s home to reveal the news that her father has been found, and that he’s never stopped loving her.  Davina reveals Andrew has 12 children and that they’ve always known about Laura. 
Andy travels to Scotland with Nten, his oldest son and Laura’s half-brother. They meet in a hotel close to Kirkcaldy, Laura’s home town.
Laura says “When my Dad said he loved me that was just - it was everything I hoped for. To hear him say that in his own words - what more can you ask for?” 
Andy says “Coming here to meet Laura means a lot to me. So special. Very very happy.” 
Also this week we meet Linda Lewis from Somerset, a woman searching for her twin sisters who vanished from her life when they were babies. Now living in Weston Super Mare, Linda grew up in Bristol, the eldest of five children. When Linda was 5, her mum, aged just 29, went into hospital for an operation and sadly passed away. Widowed with three young children and twin babies aged five months, Linda’s dad struggled to cope.
Linda says “Dad was left with two very young babies that needed a mother’s attention which must have been very difficult, he was devastated he lost his wife and he couldn’t cope with us all.” 
Linda’s father made the heart-breaking decision to give the twins Jennifer and Frances up for adoption: 
Linda says “Losing mum and then losing the twins is like one big bereavement.”
Despite now having a family of her own, Linda still longs for the twin sisters she last saw 65 years ago.  
Linda had very little information about her sisters - all she had was their original birth certificates. However, when the twins were adopted, their names would almost certainly have been changed. Long Lost Family worked with a specialist intermediary who is legally allowed to access adoption records and discovered that Frances and Jennifer are now called Dawn and Eve. Using these new names, Long Lost Family searched electoral rolls, and found a record of Eve living in Clevedon, Somerset – just 8 miles from Linda’s home in Weston Super Mare. Long Lost Family contacted Eve who told us that she and Dawn live on the same street in Clevedon and invited Nicky to meet them. 
Dawn and Eve explain to Nicky their adoptive parents were quite old and strict with no affection. They were told their birth mother had died during their birth and feared that her death was “their fault” and that their brothers and sisters would hold it against them. It wasn’t until Dawn and Eve’s adoptive parents died they requested their birth certificates and realised their birth mothers signature was on it. Realising their birth mother had not died giving birth to them, they still held back from searching for their birth family as they were frightened of rejection.  
Eve says about Linda “We’ve missed out on a lot haven’t we, not knowing her all these years.” 
Davina travels to meet with Linda and tell her news that the twins have been found. Linda is surprised that her twin sisters have been living so close for all this time. 
Linda says “I don’t know why I’m crying, I’m so happy.” 
Linda travels to the twin’s home town of Clevedon to be reunited with her sisters. 
Dawn says “I think she’s lovely. Now we’ll be together as a family, all of us together.” 
Linda says “Now I’ve got them back, it’s like another life starting. They’re lovely. It’s everything I wished for.”