Brother and sister meet abandoned sibling - 69 years later
A brother and sister have spoken of their joy at reuniting with a sibling who was abandoned as a tiny baby
Lyn Lindsay, 74, and Leslie Smith, 72, only discovered the sister they never knew had in December 2010. Chris Harrison, as she is now, was born Noela Christabel Ford on Christmas Day 1941 and left in tiny box at Falmouth Parish Church, in Cornwall just three weeks later.
From then until about eight weeks ago the three of them continued with their lives, she oblivious to their existence and they to hers.
Lyn, who lives in Southchurch Road, East Ham, was the first to find out about Chris. She received a phone call from Chris’s husband Steve. Her initial reaction was that she did not have a sister. When Steve gave her additional details, she said “Oh my God”.
Lyn, who lives with husband Stewart, told the Recorder: “I used to say to my children ‘I’m sure there’s somebody out there,” but it was just one of those things and I don’t know why I said it.”
Now the two sisters speak almost every day and met for the first time on January 10 when Lyn and her husband went to Cornwall.
She said: “It was very emotional. I have a sister who is 69 who I have never known about. I just couldn’t believe it. She is a lovely, wonderful person.”
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Lyn said she sat down and cried after talking to Chris for the first time. “It was a shock, a big shock and a surprise.
“My children have embraced her and talk to her on the phone.”
Lyn, who has three daughters, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, said the family werer regular visitors to Cornwall where she could easily have walked past her sister without realising it. Now they are making up for lost time.
Lyn said she never knew about Chris. “It never came up. We were totally in the dark.
“Its a blessing, a bonus and she’s amazing.”
She said her first meeting with Chris was euphoric.
Chris was brought up by the welfare state and found herself moved from one children’s home to another, foster home to foster home in what she readily admits was “a horrific childhood” and “a hard and lonely upbringing”. She was told by Cornwall County Council that she had no parents or siblings.
This did not deter her though. She told the Recorder: “I felt empty. I was a nobody because I didn’t know who I was, didn’t know where I had come from. I had no background.
“I could not believe I was possibly the only child. What I thought was that it was a case of I was one too many.”
The local authority refused to tell her anything and she was stonewalled at every turn. What made matters worse for her was the fact that she only had a ‘short birth certificate’ which bore only her name and date of birth. It meant she couldn’t get a passport or be adopted and had to go to court to get married.
“I feel that they denied me my childhood by not telling me anything about myself.”
Although she was happily married with four grown up children Chris began searching for her family in earnest when she put in her name on a website. When she got stuck her husband Steve took over and several hundred hours of searching on the internet later he had tracked down both Lyn and Leslie.
He also found out that their mother Gladys Violet Ford, who lived in West Ham, died three years ago.
And just days ago, on Friday, Chris met brother Leslie for the first time at the Premier Inn Beckton, in Woolwich Manor Way, where the staff reserved a quiet part of the restaurant and served them champagne to toast the happy occasion.
An emotional Leselie, who lives in Riverside Road, Stratford, told the Recorder he did not believe it when he was told about Chris.
“I thought it was a wind-up. It was my niece who rang me and told me I had a sister and then gave me a phone number to ring in Cornwall.”
He waited until Christmas Day before calling because it was Chris’s birthday.
Although brother and sister have spoken regularly since then Leslie said he was very nervous before their first face to face meeting. He said: “When we met it was just like we had known each other. It’s a strange feeling but I am looking forward to having her in my life. We have a lot of catching up to do.”
Leslie also gave Chris a beautiful ring which had once belonged to their mother. Chris said: “It is a beautiful ring. I thought that was really sweet of him.
“It has been a great way to start the New Year and we won’t forget 2011.”
Both said it was memorable day, while Steve, whose efforts made the reunion possible said it was the beginning of new journey. He said: “It was so emotional because Chris has never never had anybody in her life and now she has a great sister and a fantastic brother.
All three paid tribute to the staff at the Premier Inn. Jamie Southgate, general manager at the hotel said they had never hosted such a reunion before. He said his staff were also very excited.
He said: “It was clear that all three of them were still coming to terms with the reunion and the attention they were receiving. Seeing their faces as they were coming to terms with meeting ( each other) was really special. The whole team in the Premier Inn and Brewers Fayre have been on a real high all day since Chris and Steve arrived and It was great to play a tiny part in this fantastic story.”