ITV documentary reveals amazing shared history of two babies abandoned in 1960s on either side of the border

In January 1962, as a newborn baby, David McBride was put into a tartan shopping bag and abandoned on the front seat of a car parked on the outskirts of Belfast.

David McBride with Davina McCall. 
(c) Wall To Wall Productions
David McBride with Davina McCall. (c) Wall To Wall Productions

Six years later Helen Ward was left in a telephone box in Dundalk, again in a tartan shopping bag.

David and Helen have both been involved in media appeals to find out how they came to be abandoned, however their cases had never been linked.

Their stories were told last night in a special edition of ITV documentary Long Lost Family, presented by Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell, which revealed the extraordinary news that David and Helen are full siblings.

David, who was abandoned in a car parked in a driveway at Beechlawn Park in Dunmurry close to a police station, was brought up in a loving family in Lisburn.

He always knew he had been adopted, but it wasn’t until he was a teenager that he realised he was a foundling.

At the newspaper archives in Belfast, David looks at the newspaper articles from the time. David realises he was 14 days old when he was found: “So this means that for the first couple of weeks of my life someone fed me, clothed me, kept me warm, loved me. Someone genuinely cared.”

When David learns he has a full sister who was also abandoned as a baby, he says: “It’s difficult to take it in that the same thing had happened to me happened to my sister. That’s shocking. Why do our parents make the decision to leave us? It’s happened once, so why make the decision again?”

David now lives in Birmingham with his wife and their three children. He also has four grown up daughters.

Helen lives in Navan. She has a son and two daughters.

The pair met for the first time in a guest house in Carlingford. David comments: “The only sad thing for me is if police had been able to put two and two together at the time we could have grown up together. She’s been deprived a brother and I’ve been deprived of a wee sister.”

The programme concludes dramatically as Davina McCall reveals to David and Helen the identity of the pair’s parents.

Their father was a married Protestant from Dublin who was having an affair with their mother, an unmarried Catholic from Kerry.

Their father had 14 other children with his wife before David and then Helen were born out of the affair which spanned many years.

David said that their parents different religions and the fact the babies were born out of wedlock might have been why they were abandoned.

The first part of Long Lost Family: Born Without Trace was shown last night. The second part is on tonight at 9pm on ITV.

It focuses on foundlings – people abandoned as babies, often in the first hours and days of their lives.

Born without trace, with no identifying information, they have had no way of unlocking the secrets of their past.

In the new ground-breaking series the team behind Long Lost Family combine the latest DNA technology with painstaking detective work, to enable four foundlings to uncover their identities.