Wednesday 13 December 2017

'I just want her to know I never meant to lose touch' - Woman's on air plea to help end 43-year search for missing sister

Dublin's city centre
Dublin's city centre

David Kearns

An English woman broke down live on air during an emotional appeal to trace her missing sister – who left home for Ireland aged just 13-years-old.

Surjit (58), from Bedford in the United Kingdom, said she travelled to Ireland on Sunday night and had been searching the streets of Dublin in the hopes of spotting her sister, who left the family home some 43 years ago, for the last three days.

“I know it was like searching for a needle in a haystack but I was just hoping I’d see someone walking the streets who looked like me or my siblings,” the 58-year-old told Joe Duffy on RTÉ’s Liveline.

Barely holding back her emotions, Surjit struggled at times to explain her decades long search for her missing sister – thought to be in her mid-50s with at least two children.

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“She left home in 1973 and I’m just hoping that there’s someone listening who might know an Asian girl from Bedford who came to Ireland around that time.

“She would have been with an Irish boy from Dublin. The two of them hitchhiked from England to get here when she left home.

“Either they got married and then had two children, or they were at least living together.”

Surjit said the family had been forbidden from contacting the then 13-year-old by their father, who never forgave her for leaving home.

She said that her sister had contacted the family in 1982, first through their uncle and then by phone, to tell them she was fine and living in Ireland.

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“After that we kept in touch for a short time by post. She sent me photographs of her two children,” Surjit told Livelive.

“Eventually my father discovered this and he tore up the photos. Again, he forbade us from speaking to her.

“I still continued to speak to her but I lost touch when I misplaced her address. It all happen in a flurry of moving and pregnancy, and once I’d lost her address in Ireland, I was unable to reach her.

“This is why I’ve come to Ireland, to find her – to let her know that I never wanted to lose touch with her.”

The eldest of seven siblings, Surjit describe her missing sister as “a bubbly out going person, one to never sit back and take anything from anyone”.

“That’s why she did what she did I think. I was away on holidays when she left home, so I wasn’t there to stop her and my father from clashing.

“We had good times together, so it was just a misfortune that I was away when all of it happened.”

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Praising the Irish people for their help so far in her search, Surjit said that she had been overwhelmed by the support she had received since landing in Dublin on Sunday.

“People in here have been lovely – so helpful. They’ve done so much to aid me in this. I can’t thank them enough.

“Now I just hope that my sister is out there somewhere and will get in touch.

“Please get in contact with me. I’m really looking forward to seeing you again,” she added.

Online Editors

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