Debra Spark makes an incredible discovery after receiving some devastating news
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Long Lost Family daughter faces heartbreak after scared gran burnt her dad’s letters
Debra Spark had no idea her father wanted to be a part of her life – because his letters were destroyed.
The 53-year-old always knew she had an Italian father, but was completely unaware he wanted to be a part of her life.
Debra has spent her whole life living in Northumberland and had a happy childhood being brought up by her mother and grandparents.
Her father Ernesto, was living in Milan in the 1960s, when he met Debra’s mother Olive, who was working there as a nanny.
Speaking in tonight’s Long Lost Family, Olive tells Debra that her father was a generous “gentleman” and they ate pizza when they first went out together.
When Olive became pregnant, she suffered medical complications and “devastatingly” had to return to England to spend time in hospital.
“I cried and cried and cried. I didn’t want to leave,” says a tearful Olive, who came home to have the baby and live with her mother.
Debra Spark’s father, Ernesto, was Italian, living in Milan in the 1960s, when he met Debra’s mother Olive, who was working there as a nanny
“She talks about my dad with so much affection and I would have loved a bit of that,” says Debra.
Ernesto never saw his baby daughter, but he wrote letters asking about her and wanted to be part of her life.
Unfortunately, Debra’s grandmother was scared that her daughter and granddaughter would disappear off to Italy, so any hope of returning was shut down.
Debra explains: “My grandma loved me and was frightened I was going to be taken away. What she said went so my mum never went back.”
Although Debra has photos of her mother’s time in Italy, she has none of her father and doesn’t know about her Italian side of the family.
She adds: “At times I was angry. Why didn’t he try to find me?”
Debra’s grandmother knew the answer to that question and was keeping a terrible secret.
Olive the birth mother of searcher Debra Sparks in Milan in the 1960s
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She intercepted all the letters and burnt all but one of them – only confessing what she had done when Debra was 18-years-old.
Now this one letter is the only thing Debra has of her father’s, which she has kept for 35 years.
“It upsets me that the choice was taken away from him as well,” says Debra. “That’s the bit that hurts us, he was offering to be part of my life and was never given the chance.”
Debra, who has four children with husband Chris, longs to know what happened to her father.
The Long Lost Family team reached out to communities in Milan and were contacted by Ernesto’s son, who sadly explained his father had died.
He also revealed he had a brother and they were both completely unaware their father had another child.
Searcher Debra Spark as a young girl with her maternal grandmother
A DNA test proved the Italian brothers, Massimiliano and Alessandro are related to Debra with a 10-year age gap.
They explain nothing was easy in Ernesto’s childhood and there was a lot of “darkness”, so having Debra was probably the first happy moment in his life.
The brothers are both determined to connect with their newfound sister and believe she has some of the same features as their father.
Debra is told her dad has died off-camera, but she bursts into tears of joy when she discovers she has two half-brothers.
At the earliest opportunity, Debra travels to Milan to meet her two brothers for the first time and they can’t believe how much she looks like them.
Alessandro and Massimiliano the found brothers of searcher Debra Spark
“I recognise something familiar in her eyes. It was a very emotional moment,” says Massimiliano. “Our family is strong, it was a gift from our father. And his last gift is you.”
Alessandro, who can’t hug his sister because of Covid rules, adds: “When I saw her crying it was killing me because I want to hug her and say I’m here. She has two brothers and we are here for her.
They are now in daily contact and Debra is flying out to Italy later in the year to celebrate her birthday.
Debra says: “I just think they’re lovely. I feel there’s a bond. It’s nice to build up a picture and a family history. I just want this to be the start and not the end.”
*Long Lost family airs tonight on ITV at 9pm