Family reunited for first time in 50 years after trans-Atlantic search

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Stacey Foster

A British family have been reunited for the first time in more than 50 years.

Margaret Shimkus, now 86, was forced to flee her young family in 1961 after being threatened and bullied by her abusive husband.

When she returned for her children, her husband threatened to kill her and told her children she was dead.

"I couldn't take care of them.

"I felt bad because I had to leave them all, because I had no-one," Ms Shimkus said.

Trying to piece her shattered life back together, Ms Shimkus met an American and remarried.

The couple moved across the Atlantic and settled in Arizona.

Years passed by and Margaret's children, who hail from Lincolnshire, grew older.

Margaret was forced to abandon her children whilst fleeing an abusive marriage. Credit: Family Handout

Eventually, they started tracking down their missing mother.

At the same time, Margaret's children from a second marriage in the United States were searching for their step-siblings.

The family initially reunited over the internet, before fundraising to meet their mother face-to-face.

"It's fantastic to find out that your mother is alive," said son David Inglis after hugging his mum at a US airport.

The family reunited in the US after more than five decades apart. Credit: ITV News

"To actually see her in the flesh and everything is just unbelievable.

"It's like a magic dream come true," he continued.

They've also been catching up with four new half-brothers and sisters, and getting used to something most 60-somethings have mastered, saying: "Hello mum".

Now reunited after five decades, they'll spend their first Christmas period together - with no doubt plenty of missing presents shared.