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Newmarket foundling meets half sister Helen Knox in ITV's Long Lost Family: Born Without a Trace

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A Newmarket woman meets her half sister for the first time in tonight's episode of Long Lost Family: Born Without a Trace.

The third season of the programme, hosted by Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell, follows the story of foundlings desperate to discover their identities and meet birth family, after a lifetime of not knowing where they came from.

Foundlings are people abandoned as babies, often in the first hours and days of their lives. Born without trace, with no birth record or name, until now they have been unable to solve the ultimate mystery of their lives – who they are.

Foundling Helen Knox, left, with her half sister Jess who feature in tonight's episode of Long Lost Family: Born without a trace. Photo: Long Lost Family/ITV
Foundling Helen Knox, left, with her half sister Jess who feature in tonight's episode of Long Lost Family: Born without a trace. Photo: Long Lost Family/ITV

Over the last four years, the team behind Long Lost Family has combined cutting-edge genetic genealogy with DNA testing technology to try to help more than 30 foundlings unlock the secrets of their past.

Tonight's episode follows the story of Helen Knox, who was found in a box outside Scarsdale Hospital in Chesterfield in December 1988. Her parents saw her story on the local news and agreed to adopt her. She had a happy upbringing and is now engaged with two children of her own.

But she’s always struggled with not knowing anything about her very beginnings. She said: “I don't know what the first few hours of my life were like, where I was and who I was with, who left me there.”

The only keepsakes Helen has to hold on to are the hospital name tag she was given as a baby for ‘Gill Scarsdale,’ named after the nurse who looked after her and the hospital where she was left, and some photos of her taken with the maternity nurses.

The search team traces two of these nurses, Gill and Susan, and Helen is reunited with them for the first time in over 30 years. It’s an emotional meeting and they share their memories of her first days.

The search team then goes on to find out that Jess, another foundling who was abandoned 14 months before, is the half-sister of Helen with the pair sharing the same mother.

Nicky visits Jess at home in Newmarket to break the news that she is an older sister.

"It was just an instant shock," says Jess. "I just couldn't believe it. It was incredible."

"It never crossed my mind that any sibling would be a foundling. I still can't get my head around it."

Jess shares that she was abandoned next to a road wearing a nappy and just a vest with a carrier bag underneath her.

"It's just surreal to think we are sisters," said Jess. "The fact we're linked and we're sisters is important. We'll have that bond forever."

Meanwhile, Davina visits Helen to tell her of the discovery, and Helen is shocked to learn there is just 14 months between them and that she is also a foundling.

"This is something amazing. I just don't feel on my own anymore," a crying Helen tells Davina.

But Helen is left with burning questions, adding: “I still want to know where I come from and who my birth parents are and why they left me."

Shocked by several similarities in their lives, Helen and Jess are introduced, having both taken Covid-19 tests.

The programme reveals that their mother has also been found but can't be named.

Tonight's episode also features another foundling, Victoria Vardy, who incredibly was also left in Chesterfield a year and a half before Helen, who also approached the programme for help to find her birth family.

It airs tonight on ITV One at 9pm.

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