Siblings reunited with long lost mother - 60 years after being told she was dead

Five siblings from Lincolnshire who grew up believing their mother was dead have been reunited with her after nearly 60 years.

Margaret Shimkus, who is now 86, was forced to leave her children behind because of an abusive relationship.

The siblings spent the last 20 years trying to find out what happened to her - only to find she was alive and well, and living in America.

The family has been reunited over the internet, and now they are fundraising so they can fly to meet their mother face-to-face.

Margaret was forced to leave her children behind because of an abusive relationship. Credit: Family handout / ITV Central

Dave Inglis and his sisters Lizzie Oliver and Diana Chapman grew up in Spalding with their father Brian, who they say was a bully; cruel to them and their mother Margaret.

After years of suffering, she decided to leave - without her children. That was 58 years ago.

She moved to Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire, and that was the last time they saw her.

Lizzie says: "I was only about four when she'd gone.

"She couldn't put up with all the beatings, my dad was quite violent towards her.

"She tried several times to come back for us, to be told 'you can't have them kids. Leave them, come back again and I'll kill you'."

Growing up, Dave, Lizzie, Diana and their two other siblings spent time between the family home and foster care.

Their father remarried and when they would ask him about Margaret, they were told that she had died and that his second wife was their new mother now.

Lizzie says: "You couldn't keep asking, because if you asked anymore then you'd get a beating."

Their father Brian died 11 years ago at the age of 74.

The siblings moved away from him when they were old enough, and had little to do with him.

But over the years, Dave couldn't stop thinking about his mother - and he didn't believe that she had died.

He spent 20 years trying to track her down - asking his local newspaper for help as well as the British Red Cross and the Salvation Army.

"There was something inside of me that said this is not true - she's got to be out there," said Dave.

"Me and my wife went to various places and tried to get her National Insurance Number, but there was no trace of her - it was like she wasn't even on this planet."

Dave spent two decades trying to find his mother - asking his local newspaper for help. Credit: ITV Central

Dave didn't know that Margaret had met an American man and had moved to the States. She got re-married there and had three girls and a son.

When she told her new children about their half-siblings in England, they were keen to find them.

So while Margaret's children were looking for her, her family across the pond were also looking for them.

Both families spent hours trawling through ancestry websites and social media trying to make contact with each other.

Then, last month, out of the blue, Dave received an email that stunned everyone.

Margaret is 86 now and lives in Arizona.

Dave, Lizzie and Diana are desperate to be reunited with their mother.

Watch the moment Dave, Lizzie and Diana see their mother for the first time in 58 years:

She's too frail to come here, so now they're raising money to travel to the States.

"Time is not on our side, and time is not on mum's side," Lizzie says.

"We just need to get there, we just need to hold her. Even if we just hold her once."

Watch part one of the Family Reunited series:

Watch part two of the Family Reunited series:

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