‘Foundling’ left in department store is determined to trace mum

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On October 20, 1943, a tiny two-week-old baby boy was found abandoned in the Peter Robinson department store in central London.

After spending the first four years of his life in care homes, the youngster – named Robin Peter after the shop – was adopted.

Despite leaving school with no qualifications, he completed correspondence courses and went on to become a successful architect.

Now 73-years-old, Robin has two grown-up daughters and three grandchildren.

He does not feel any animosity towards his mother – but is very keen to find out who she was and why she took the course of action she did.

Robin lives in London but his daughters Lorraine Ball and Michaela Chantrell are both in Stamford.

For the past 20 years, Lorraine has been attempting to help her father trace his family history.

A couple of weeks ago, she and Robin went on BBC Radio 2 to share their story.

Now, harnessing the power of social media, and with expert guidance from people tracing expert Cat Whiteaway and DNA database guru Julia Bell, Lorraine is hoping for a breakthrough.

Mother-of-two Lorraine, 48, who owns J & L Ball Interiors in North Street, Stamford, said: “We have been trying to find answers now for 20 years – but it is very difficult because he is a ‘foundling’ and we have so little to work from.

“There are no police files or newspaper cuttings on his abandonment. We don’t even know where in the Peter Robinson store he was found, who found him, what he was wearing, or anything like that.

“By telling the story to as many people as we can, we hope we might trigger someone’s memory.

“Perhaps someone remembers a relative telling a story of finding a baby in a London department store.”

Lorraine approached Cat Whiteaway for help after seeing her on The One Show and Cat, in turn, introduced her to Julia Ball.

DNA tests have shown that Robin has Scottish or Irish ancestry. By checking his sample against an international database, a second or third cousin, Maria Copper, was found in America.

Maria’s family originally came from Bothwell, Scotland and relatives of hers, the McKenna family, still live there.

Lorraine has written to all the McKennas she could find in Bothwell and is piecing together a family tree but is still not sure whether or not that will lead to her father’s immediate relatives.

One possible theory is that Robin’s father was an American soldier stationed in England during the Second World War.

Speaking to Vanessa Feltz on BBC Radio 2, Robin said: “I feel for my mother, because there must have been a trauma of some type for her to do what she did.

“We always said our hearts go out to her for what she went through and other foundlings I’ve spoken to feel the same.”

l To follow Lorraine’s progress, or share information, visit www.facebook.com/robinsfoundlingstory