These heartwarming photographs show how a baby girl deserted by her mother in a telephone box has been reunited with her rescuer 22 years later. Kiran Sheikh, 22, was just two hours old when her frightened mother – who was in an abus-ive relationship – left her in the middle of the night in Forest Gate, East London.
Her mother had called the Samaritans from the box but before they could arrive the newborn was found by Joe Campbell, 52, who initially mistook her for a thrown bag of chips.
Mr Campbell called the cop and Miss Sheikh was taken to Newham General Hospital, where she was given the name ‘April’ after the month of her birth, as well as Mr Campbell’s surname. But she was then adopted by another family who then went on to rename her – and it was only when she was eight she was told the truth about her coming into the world.
Two decades later, wanting to meet up with the man who found her, she made an appeal and Mr Campbell saw the story and came forward – and they have now met again in Central London.
Miss Sheikh said: ‘I am so overwhelmed, this is unbelievable. I’ve been waiting 15 years to meet him and he’s finally here. He was the second person to hold me after my mother, it’s incredible.’ Mr Campbell was shown Miss Sheikh’s newspaper appeal for the man who had saved her by a colleague at work for delivery firm DPD, who immediately recognised his good deed 20 years earlier.
He had kept photos and clippings about Miss Sheikh from the time he found her, hoping he would one day see her again. He said: ‘This is a beautiful, beautiful day. I am so glad she has got in touch after all this time, I have never forgotten her. I can’t believe she found me.’ Mr Campbell had gone to the phone box, near where he lived, to call his parents in Guyana in the middle of the night, because they had a five-hour time difference.
He initially thought the baby girl was discarded chip wrapper – not realising the new life swaddled inside them. He said: ‘As I was walking towards the phone box, I could see what looked like chip wrappers on the floor – it annoyed me that people couldn’t pick up their mess. ‘But just before I got to the door, I realised there was a tiny life form wrapped inside.
She was an innocent, sweet little thing, just laying there gargling. As far as I can see, I did what anyone else would have done.’
Mr Campbell tried to stay in touch with Miss Sheikh, who received the first name of Kiran from her adoptive parents, by taking cards, money and gifts to social services. He even asked if he could adopt the baby, but was told he could not because he was not married at the time. Mr Campbell continued for seven years, until social workers told him to stop – but Miss Sheikh said she never received his gifts, and was given no information about him.
She added: ‘I don’t know why they didn’t tell me about him. All I received were photocopies of the outsides of the cards he sent, not even what he’d written inside. ‘I cannot believe they didn’t put anything on my file about him. They really could have done something – people don’t do what he did, not like that.’ Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain today, Mr Campbell said: ‘My work colleague… came in yesterday morning and threw the paper at my desk and he said “Joe, this is you”.’
Talking about their reunion, Mr Campbell added: ‘Well it was emotional, it was happy – OK, I shed a few tears back whilst waiting, I did my best not to cry yesterday because big boys don’t cry. ‘But it’s one of the happiest days of my life because I never stopped looking for her – I was always hopeful that someday, somehow I’ll find her before I finally part this world.
‘She is my family – I told her, I said you’ve got siblings, OK we’re not gore related, but we are.’
And Miss Sheikh said: ‘It was just overwhelming – I’d wanted since I was eight years old, that’s a long time to turn 22, I’m still overwhelmed now. I think it’s going to take a few days to sink in. ‘I didn’t think it would happen that quickly. His children were speaking to me yesterday. I’m not angry, I forgive her (my mother), she wrote me a letter saying sorry, I forgive her.
‘I would love to just meet her and forgive her completely. I hope she doesn’t feel bad or anything – I would never want her to feel that way.’ As she grew up Miss Sheikh had suspicions she was adopted because her parents were much older than her friend’s parents and had different skin colour to her. When she was 18, she received her files from social services, but there was little more information about the Good Samaritan who saved her.
But she has never met her real mother, who left the baby because the father was suffer and she already had six children. The cop made a huge appeal for the parents to come forwards at the time, but were unsuccessful – until Miss Sheikh’s mother gave birth to her eighth child two years later. She admitted leaving the baby, but was not prosecuted and later disappeared.
Miss Sheikh received a letter from her mother apologising for her actions when the girl was aged three, but that was the last contact she had. She has since been in touch with her other siblings but only maintained contact with one called Zoe, who was also put up for adoption and now lives in Florida. Her father is in coustdy in Canada for attempted finish after he another ex-girlfriend 30 times. Another big shock came when the two realised Miss Sheikh had grown up streets away from where Mr Campbell lived until 1997 in Forest Gate – with the two having probably crossed paths for years.
Mr Campbell, who now lives in Bell Green, South London, did not know his own biological mother, who depart when he was three, and believes this may have influenced his kindness. He said: ‘I wanted her to have parents. My stepmother looked after me as if I was her own, and I wanted Kiran to have that too.’
This is how people reacted to this post:
Triciae76 – leave it to ‘social services’ to block this man from being part of this girls life. im so glad they finally were reunited. the world needs more heros like this wonderful man!
Untapped Happiness – Social services was being so rude, why would they intercept the gifts and tell him to stop? Let her adoptive parents handle it, like?
Glorious Day – I guess Social Services didn’t think the girl deserved all that love.
They like seeing miserable people.
Sammy Jones – Stories like this restore my faith in humanity such a beautiful act of kindness
This Article Was First Published on goodnewsnetwork.org