Dereham mother reunited with daughter after 48 years

Susan Webb was reunited with her daughter, Donna Bessant, on ITV's Long Lost Family. Picture: ITV

Susan Webb was reunited with her daughter, Donna Bessant, on ITV's Long Lost Family. Picture: ITV - Credit: Archant

Giving up her baby for adoption nearly 50 years ago was traumatic enough for Susan Webb.

But when treatment for depression caused the loss of her long-term memory, including all memories of her precious daughter, Mrs Webb was left at an all-time low.

Now, thanks to a television programme which traces long-lost family members, the 70-year-old widow, from Dereham, is able to make new memories with the daughter she thought she would never see again.

The story of Mrs Webb's emotional reunion with the little girl she named Samantha in 1967 is featured on the ITV show Long Lost Family tonight.

It shows how presenters Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell track down Samantha, whose name was changed to Donna when she was adopted, and bring the pair together again.


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Specialist adoption intermediaries Long Lost Family was able to find Donna in Folkestone, where she was delighted to be found and instantly felt that she must meet her mother and half-sisters.

Meanwhile, presenter Davina McCall met up with Mrs Webb to break the news that she could finally have a second chance to create memories with her daughter.

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The mother and daughter met for the first time in 48 years at a hotel in Essex and there was an instant connection between them.

When they were joined by Mrs Webb's twin daughters Nicola and Joanne, she was able to see all her children together for the first time in her life. 'I lost a lot of memories,' she said. 'I'd like to create new ones.'

I did love her...

Susan Webb had an idyllic childhood growing up in Essex with her parents Arthur and Doris Galsworthy and brother David. But after her brother was killed in a road accident her family fell to pieces.

Soon after the tragedy she discovered that she was pregnant.

With the baby's father not willing to support her she put her own feelings for her unborn child aside and decided that rather than burden her parents with a new baby, she would have it adopted.

In 1967 she gave birth to a little girl that she called Samantha.

Samantha was initially placed in foster care and for six months Susan visited her, but when Samantha was officially adopted, the reality of never seeing her daughter again hit home.

Mrs Webb said: 'I started to feel lower and lower all the time. I just didn't know I could go on.'

Mrs Webb was diagnosed with severe depression and treated with electro convulsive therapy or ECT. The worst effect was that her long-term memory was affected by the treatment and she was stripped of her precious memories of the brief time she spent with her daughter.

Mrs Webb eventually married and gave birth to twin girls, Nicole and Joanne, but thought about her long-lost baby every day.

'I did love her, that is one thing I do remember,' she said.

• Long Lost Family is on ITV tonight at 9pm.

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