Chesterfield babies abandoned 18 months apart search for answers from birth family as part of ITV's Long Lost Family

Two Chesterfield women who were abandoned as babies, 18 months apart, have embarked on a journey to get answers from their birth family.

Tuesday, 25th May 2021, 3:26 pm
Updated Tuesday, 25th May 2021, 4:02 pm

In the first episode of the third ITV Long Lost Family series, which returned to screens on Monday, May 24, presenters Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell followed the journeys of Helen Knox and Victoria Vardy, who were both abandoned in Chesterfield in the late 1980s.

Helen, who now lives in Derby with two children, was left in a cardboard box as a baby outside the former Scarsdale hospital.

Despite having a happy childhood after her parents saw her story on the local news and adopted her, Helen shared how she always wanted answers about her start in life.

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Victoria Vardy was abandoned as a baby in a department store stairwell in Elder Way, Chesterfield.
Victoria Vardy was abandoned as a baby in a department store stairwell in Elder Way, Chesterfield.

The search team traced two of the nurses, Gill and Susan, who cared for Helen as a baby in 1988 and the trio were reunited for the first time in over 30 years.

Helen added: "They gave me lots of love, care and attention and it was nice to know that I wasn’t just put into a room or a cot, I was looked after, it was reassuring.

"Whoever left me there thought about it, they thought where is the best, safest place for her so they thought about me, they didn’t just abandon me they wanted the best for me and I did have the best so that’s good.”

Both the Helen and Victoria’s DNA was uploaded onto a database to identify blood relatives and despite speculation, there was no relation between the two who were found within a year and a half in the town.

Helen outside the former Scarsdale hospital. Credit: ITV.

The search team managed to track down Helen’s older half-sister Jess, who was also a foundling and abandoned 14 months before and the pair met for the first time in an emotional meeting.

"Finding you that was all I wanted”, the mother of two told her birth relative as they discussed their upbringings.

In the stairwell of a department store, just a few hundred meters from where Helen was left, Victoria was found 18 months earlier earlier inside a zipped up, brown holdall on Elder Street.

Over 33 years on, the woman who was originally named Katie Elder before she was adopted, still lives in Chesterfield and has a daughter of her own.

Helen kept a picture of the nurses who cared for her when she was left at the hospital. Credit: ITV.

Victoria’s parents, who gave her a happy upbringing, kept hold of the bag she was found inside in 1987 along with a bus ticket and the pink onesie, cardigan and blanket she was tucked inside.

She decided to take matters into her own hands 10 years ago and launched an appeal to try and find her birth family. This was first covered in the Derbyshire Times and then made national headlines but no one ever came forward.

Both of Victoria’s birth parents were found through the DNA database and she was told she had two older, biological siblings.

She has now seen a picture of her birth mother, as contact continues to develop but met her biological father and brother in a meeting off-camera.

Presenters Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell helps people who were abandoned as babies reunite with their birth family as part of the third series of Long Lost Family: Born Without Trace. Credit: ITV.

After meeting her birth relatives, Victoria said: “I’m on a bit of a high because it was really exciting.

"It seems really promising and I think we are definitely getting to know each other a little better.”

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The clothes Victoria was wearing and the holdall she was found inside.
The mother of two was initially called Gill, after one of the nurses who looked after her, before she was adopted. Credit: ITV.
Helen was reunited with her half-sister Jess on the programme. Credit: ITV.
The Derbyshire Times front page when Victoria was found in a stairwell on Elder Street as a baby.