Emotional moment man who was left on a stranger’s doorstep on a cold Christmas night in 1960 reunites with the woman, 88, who found him and ‘saved his life’
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This is the emotional moment a man who was left on a stranger’s doorstep on a cold Christmas night in 1960 was reunited with the elderly woman who discovered him.
Harvey Shackell, now 63, was found as a newborn in a cardboard box covered in brown paper in front of a house in Hayes, Middlesex, which was home to Mr and Mrs Wood.
Appearing on tonight’s Long Lost Family: Born Without Trace to try and find his birth relatives, Harvey finally has the chance to thank the woman, Vera Wood, who ‘saved his life’ after discovering him on her doorstep and bringing him in from the cold.
The duo are reunited, with Vera, now 88, explaining how she tried to keep Harvey as a baby and even searched for him after he was taken away by the police, and later adopted by a different family.
‘I’ve always been thinking, where was I found. You saved my life really. If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be here now,’ an emotional Harvey tells Vera.
Vera recalls the moment she discovered Harvey as a newborn, saying: ‘I pulled this sheet of paper away, and there you are in the bottom of this cardboard box, and under the sheet of brown paper was a thick blue lady’s cardigan, you’re under it.
‘No bonnet, no mittens, nothing on your feet. I lifted the box up and brought you in doors, phoned the police and in minutes the police turned up.’
‘So I’d been there really all night,’ questions Harvey, before Vera confirms: ‘You’d been there all night.
‘I would’ve loved to have tried to have kept you, but it was not possible,’ admits the elderly woman, before added: ‘I’ve been looking for you, wondering where you are, who’s got you? How have you grown up?’
Harvey was quick to reassure Vera that he has been ‘very lucky’, explaining that he was fostered by a ‘nice family’.
He adds: ‘That family loved me so much, they decided to adopt me, so I’ve been with one family all this time.’
She gives him a photograph that was taken at the time and tells him: ‘If anything happens to me now, I can go to my grave happy because I’ve seen you’.
Vera and her husband were seemingly unrelated to the case but did express an interest in adopting Harvey according to coverage from the time in the Daily Herald and The Mirror.
This is the emotional moment a man who was left on a stranger’s doorstep on a cold Christmas night in 1960 was reunited with the elderly woman who discovered him
Harvey Shackell, now 63, was found as a newborn in a cardboard box covered in brown paper in front of a house in Hayes, Middlesex, which was home to Mr and Mrs Wood (pictured)
Harvey was taken to Hillingdon Hospital before being fostered and then adopted by the Shackell family.
He had a good adoption and is married with two stepsons but has no blood relatives. Over the years he has thought about his birth family but only took action to search recently when he launched a national newspaper appeal.
With no leads from this, Harvey returns to the only link he knows, the doorstep where he was found. ‘If I hadn’t been taken in, I would have frozen to death,’ he says. But Vera no longer lives at that address.
Miraculously the Long Lost Family team discover Harvey was not the only one looking; Vera appeared on ITV’s Surprise Surprise back in 1988 to appeal for information about the whereabouts of the baby who’d been left on her doorstep.
Meanwhile, the search team learn through DNA that Harvey has two older full siblings.
Both of his birth parents have passed away and one sister doesn’t want to be identified, but Harvey’s sister Cherry is very pleased to be found.
Appearing on tonight’s Long Lost Family: Born Without Trace to try and find his birth relatives, Harvey (pictured) finally has the chance to thank the woman, Vera Wood, who ‘saved his life’ after discovering him on her doorstep and bringing him in from the cold
Cherry and Harvey meet for the first time. Cherry is able to tell Harvey that his birth mother had no say in his abandonment and thought he had been taken to a place of safety.
The siblings are astonished at their physical likeness and the comfort the meeting brings them both.
Shockingly, it’s also discovered that Cherry and Harvey’s father had multiple relationships with different women and had nineteen children in total.
Some went to children’s homes before being adopted. Harvey video calls several of his half-siblings and celebrates the fact that they have made it back together despite being separated.
Harvey looks forward to the future with the big family he could only have hoped to find.
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