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George, 47, finally gets to meet his ex-trainer father

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Former Exning trainer Bill Holden died last month having been re-united with the son and daughter he had never known.

Mr Holden, died in a care home three months after celebrating his 90th birthday with his son George Archer, who had found his father by submitting a DNA sample to family tracing website Ancestry.

Now 47, George, who lives in Warwickshire, said: “I knew there was something different about me and so did my siblings, who always said I had a different father to them.

William Holden and George Archer (36387535)
William Holden and George Archer (36387535)

“I didn’t want to pester my mother, who was in her 80s, but when she died in 2014 I decided I wanted to try and find out who my father was because I felt there was a hug gap in my life.”

George’s suspicions were justified when DNA samples taken from him and his sister, Marion, showed they were not full siblings. She then told him about his father, and how he had trained at Exeter Stables, in Exning.

Bill Holden jockey (36389751)
Bill Holden jockey (36389751)

“I went to the yard and just knocked on the door and asked the owners if they knew anything about Bill,” said George. “They introduced me to Ian Watkinson, who used to ride for my father, and he told me he was living in Spain.”

That was in 2015 and George was able to make contact with his father, who was suffering with Parkinson’s Disease, by phone.

However, very soon afterwards Bill went into a care home in Spain and George once again lost contact and fearing he would never find his father, submitted his DNA sample to Ancestry and it threw up a host of matches to cousins who George contacted and who were happy to help him. He found his father had returned to the UK in 2017 and was a resident in a care home in Great Yarmouth owned by one of his nephews.

“Without Ancestry I would never have found my father again,” said George, whose search turned up yet another surprise – he found he had another half sister, Zoe Hawkins, who was living in Australia.

“She came over in December last year and was able to met her father for the first and last time,” said George, who also took her to see Exeter Stables where their father had trained all those years ago.

“It was wonderful to finally get to know my father after all those years of uncertainty” said George, “and one of the first things he gave me was a photo of my mum Freda.”