Maldon: Long-lost sisters meet for the first time after 60 years

ONE woman was trying to find her mother and the other was searching for her sister.

Now the two women, who are both aged in their 60s, have met each other for the first time after discovering they were half sisters.

At an emotional meeting in Maldon on Wednesday, Paula Shand, 60, and Wendy Whitfield, 63, embraced each other for the first time in their lives.

Paula, of Washington Road, Maldon, said that discovering she had a sister had been “the best Christmas present ever” and that she was “living on cloud nine”.

“It’s just amazing that Wendy was able to find me,” said Paula, who is married and has two children. “It was really lovely when we met because we just clicked – you could tell we are sisters because we have the same mannerisms even though we have never met before.”

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Paula first discovered she had a half sister about 10 years ago when her aunt revealed a family secret that her mother, Joyce, had given birth to another child which had been put up for adoption.

Paula’s husband, Gavin, said: “Paula had tried to quiz her mum about her older sister, but she hadn’t wanted to talk about it. I don’t think she was very proud about what had happened.

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“I never believed we would meet the sister because Paula was afraid of finding her and being rejected. It’s fantastic that we now have a bigger family, especially as Paula has lost her mum and her aunt in the last couple of years.”

Wendy, who lives in Southampton with her husband Robert, started looking for her birth mother about 20 years ago when her adopted parents died within a few months of each other.

When she was clearing out the house she found the adoption papers which contained her mother’s name and her old name before it was changed by her adopted parents.

“I had always known I was adopted, but I had never tried to find out any more about my birth mother out of respect for my parents,” said Wendy. “When they passed away, I decided to try to track her down, but I didn’t have much luck.”

The breakthrough for Wendy came when she mentioned to a friend what she was trying to do and she put her in touch with an amateur genealogist.

“I was told that my mother had died, but there was another lady who might like to meet me,” said Wendy. “I was ecstatic when I found out it was my sister – I was excited and nervous about meeting her.

“Even though I haven’t been able to meet my birth mother, this is the next best thing. It’s amazing to know where I come from.”

Paula said: “Meeting Wendy has been overwhelming and I still can’t believe it’s really happened. I’ve told her loads about her mother and we’ve had the photos out. We’re definitely going to keep in touch.”

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