A mum forced to give up her baby son more than 50 years ago has told how she has been reunited with him – after discovering he is a TV star.
June Hickey endured the heartbreak of handing over her 12-week-old boy Kenneth Gregory after she fell pregnant at the age of 22 in 1959.
She kept her son a secret as the decades wore on but never forgot about him – and one day received a letter out of the blue, saying he was looking for her.
The pair have since enjoyed an emotional reunion and have discovered they have a lot in common.
June’s son had been adopted by teachers Dafydd and Laura Jones in Caernarfon, Wales, and renamed Dewi. Now 55, he is now a well-known TV actor in soap Rownd a Rownd.
June, 77, from Garstang, first met up with Dewi at the specialist voluntary agency, After Adoption, in Preston.
She recalled: “It was quite funny because I walked in and thought ‘God, I know you’, he looked so familiar. He was the same: chubby with big blue eyes except now he’s a bald as a coot!
“When he said he was an actor, well, all my family are actors, so I nearly fell of the chair.
“His adopted cousin said the family always wondered where he had got that from but my father, brother, sister, nephew and niece were all actors.”
June will never forget boarding a train to Liverpool in 1959 by herself to hand Dewi over for adoption.
She fell pregnant out of wedlock and only discovered afterwards that her beau was already married with two children. She was left to bring up the baby alone when he joined the RAF.
With both her parents elderly and in bad health, June found it difficult to keep the baby.
She said: “I was a very young 22, I wasn’t very worldly wise at the time.
“The worst thing was taking him to Liverpool on my own. By that time it had got through my thick skull that he was going.
“I was wandering around Liverpool afterwards – I’d never been there before and I’ve never been since – waiting for my train without him.”
Since his birth, June had rekindled her romance with Dewi’s father, married him and had a second son, Gary.
But shortly after Gary was born, the pair split for good and June moved to Blackpool to bring him up on her own.
June married John Hickey in 1984, bought a bungalow in Garstang when she retired from the civil service at 60 and got on with life, all the time keeping her first born a secret.
She said: “In those days you didn’t have any chance of finding the child so there was no point in telling him.
“But then I received a letter saying that Dewi was looking for me.”
Dewi had been told at the age of nine that he had been adopted. His journey to track down his birth mother was even charted in a TV documentary.
He said: “It had been on my mind since I was about 19 when my parents died and I had been having difficulty getting through the first hurdles.
“But then I’d get busy with work and be travelling and every now and again something would come over me and I’d have a bit of a search and it would be fruitless.
“Then I went through social services in Gwynedd who put me in touch with specialist service, After Adoption, and it was plain sailing from there.”
June broke the news about finding Dewi to his brother, Gary, and discovered she also had a granddaughter, Cati, now 15. But June’s husband sadly died one month before she and Gary met Dewi for the first time.
She said: “I had told Gary I had something to tell him and didn’t want him to be too shocked.
“He said he thought it might have been a step-brother or something but he never thought it would be an actual brother - he reacted quite well but he was a bit annoyed I hadn’t told him before but of course that was a closed chapter.”
Dewi said: “Finding June was an unbelievable experience, especially as Gary and I had both thought we were only children then all of a sudden we had each other.
“I had mixed feeling about what would happen when I did fine her as I didn’t want to open a can of worms, but overall I was pretty elated, it’s one of those experiences you’re rarely going to get.”
Sue Kelly, practice manager at After Adoption, said: “June and Dewi’s story is a particularly exciting and successful search case, being reunited with her birth son and establishing such a close and long-term relationship with him and his daughter.
“We’re here to assist the search and reunion process and provide the emotional and practical support needed, with the aim of developing new and successful relationships.”
- Log on to www.afteradoption.org.uk or call ActionLine on 0800 0 568 578.