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British woman meets her half-brothers for the first time and leaves viewers in tears

Long Lost Family viewers were left in floods of tears last night after a British woman was introduced to her Italian half-brothers she never knew she had.

Debra Spark, from Northumberland, never met her father Ernesto and instead she grew up with her mother, grandmother and grandfather. 

Ernesto had a relationship with her mum Olive when the pair where both living in Milan in the 1960s, but when Olive, who was working as a nanny, fell pregnant she had to rush back to the UK due to health issues.  

‘Gentleman’ Ernesto was desperate to meet his daughter and regularly wrote to Debra and Olive, but Debra’s grandmother destroyed all the letters he sent as she feared the pair would  move to Italy

Now 53, Debra, who has four children of her own, enlisted the help of ITV’s Long Lost Family to find her father only to discover he had passed away.

But instead she met two brothers and the emotional union left viewers sobbing.  

‘The two kind, warm, welcoming Italian brothers on Long Lost Family tonight made me cry. Such generosity of spirit. Such compassion,’ wrote one.

Debra Spark, from Northumberland, never met her father Ernesto and instead she grew up with her mother, grandmother and grandfather. Now 53, Debra, who has four children of her own, enlisted the help of ITV’s Long Lost Family to find her father only to discover he had passed away. But instead she met two brothers and the emotional union left viewers sobbing. She is pictured with brothers Alessandro and  Massimiliano

‘My grandma loved me and was frightened I was going to be taken away. What she said went so my mum never went back,’ Debra explained. 

When she turned 18, Debra’s grandmother confessed she had put all airmail letters on the fire, and gave her the one letter from Ernesto she had kept.

‘It upsets me that the choice was taken away from him as well,’ 

‘That’s the bit that hurts, he was offering to be part of my life and was never given the chance.’

‘I want to know everything about him. Did he ever marry? Did he have children?  I need to know,’ Debra explained. 

Ernesto had a relationship with her mum Olive when the pair where both living in Milan in the 1960s, but when Olive, who was working as a nanny, fell pregnant she had to rush back to the UK due to health issues. 'Gentleman' Ernesto was desperate to meet his daughter and regularly wrote to Debra and Olive, but Debra's grandmother destroyed all the letters he sent as she feared the pair would move to Italy. She is pictured as a child with her grandmother

Ernesto had a relationship with her mum Olive when the pair where both living in Milan in the 1960s, but when Olive, who was working as a nanny, fell pregnant she had to rush back to the UK due to health issues. ‘Gentleman’ Ernesto was desperate to meet his daughter and regularly wrote to Debra and Olive, but Debra’s grandmother destroyed all the letters he sent as she feared the pair would move to Italy. She is pictured as a child with her grandmother

Due to lockdown restrictions during filming, all Italian state offices were shut down making it a struggle to find Ernesto.

The ITV search team reached out to communities based in Milan and eventually got a reply from a man called Alessandro, who revealed Ernesto was is late father. 

The Long Lost Family team provided Alessandro and his brother Massimiliano – who had no idea about Debra’s existence – with DNA tests.

These confirmed Debra had two brothers, both who are married with their own children and more than 10 years her junior.     

The ITV search team reached out to communities based in Milan and eventually got a reply from a man called Alessandro (pictured) who revealed Ernesto was is late

The Long Lost Family team provided Alessandro and his brother Massimiliano (pictured) - who had no idea about Debra's existence - with DNA tests.

The ITV search team reached out to communities based in Milan and eventually got a reply from a man called Alessandro (left)  who revealed Ernesto was is late father. The Long Lost Family team provided Alessandro and his brother Massimiliano – who had no idea about Debra’s existence – with DNA tests.

‘Family was the most important thing to our father,’ the brothers explained to presenter Nicky Campbell. ‘He would have never forgotten Debra’.

They added Ernesto’s early life had been filled with ‘darkness’ as he’d never met his own father, and that Debra’s birth would have been the first nice thing that happened to him.  

Alessandro added: ‘Please tell her we want to meet her as soon as possible’. 

Despite being upset to hear of her father’s death, Debra said it gave her ‘closure’ and that she had prepared herself for all circumstances. 

Presenter Davina McCall then told her about her brothers, which caused her to burst into tears and sob ‘that means everything’. 

Debra has only ever seen photos of her mother while in Milan (pictured) and never saw a photo of her father before the episode

Debra has only ever seen photos of her mother while in Milan (pictured) and never saw a photo of her father before the episode

Because of pandemic travel restrictions, the brothers couldn’t meet Debra immediately, but wrote her a letter, saying they felt the ‘earth fall from under them’ after discovering her.

They added Debra shared many of her father’s features. 

‘I recognise something familiar in her eyes. It was a very emotional moment,’ Massimiliano said.

‘Our family is strong, it was a gift from our father. And his last gift is you.’ 

Eventually, Debra was able to travel to Milan to meet her siblings, but they couldn't hug due to social distancing rules, which was heart-wrenching for the famly.

Eventually, Debra was able to travel to Milan to meet her siblings, but they couldn’t hug due to social distancing rules, which was heart-wrenching for the famly.

Eventually, Debra was able to travel to Milan to meet her siblings, but they couldn’t hug due to social distancing rules, which was heart-wrenching for the family.

‘When I saw her crying it was killing me because I want to hug her and say I’m here. She has two brothers and we are here for her,’ Alessandro said.

The siblings now speak every day, and Debra plans to return to Italy to meet them again.   

‘I just think they’re lovely. I feel there’s a bond. It’s nice to build up a picture and a family history. I just want this to be the start and not the end,’ she said. 

Viewers were left in tears at the emotional meeting, with dozens taking to Twitter.

Viewers were left in tears at the emotional meeting, with dozens taking to Twitter.

Viewers were left in tears at the emotional meeting, with dozens taking to Twitter. 

‘The letter written by the two  Italian  Brothers in  Long Los tFamily tonight had me in tears! Absolutely beautiful,’ wrote one Twitter user.

‘What kind brothers Deborah has, so genuine which will mean the world to her. Beautiful stuff,’ said another. 

‘After watching the brothers, Italy winning the euros wasn’t all bad after all. Good blokes,’ added a third.

‘My heart is bursting for Debra. Her brothers are so lovely!’ wrote a fifth.  

‘What lovely men Debra’s brothers are,’ said another.  


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