Joy and tears as Calne man meets his dad for first time
Physiotherapist Jason Redding is looking forward to Skyping his long-lost father on Christmas Day tomorrow after travelling to America for an emotional first meeting.
The 42-year-old from Calne met his father John Russell just before Christmas in Victorville, California, after well-wishers and family members raised money for a flight from Heathrow.
Mr Russell, 63, was an American serviceman based at Greenham Common, Berkshire, from 1968 to 1971, but he lost touch with Mr Redding’s mother Glynnis on his return home.
Both men spent years searching for each other and Mr Redding, who has two teenage children of his own, said the trip had made his Christmas “the best you could ever imagine”.
He said: “I didn’t know what to expect and what reaction I was going to get. We had a massive hug and just a few tears. We are so similar, we have the same kind of mentality, it was very bizarre and I know where I get a lot of my character from now.
“I met my grandad and I didn’t know he was alive. I met aunts and uncles, cousins and nephews. There was only one day that dad and I didn’t have a visitor.”
Mr Redding’s fiancée Michelle Ravell found Mr Russell after taking up the search on the internet, striking gold when she sent a letter to an address which kept cropping up in her searches.
During his time in America Mr Redding spent some time using his physiotherapy skills on Mr Russell, who has emphysema, which makes it difficult to breathe and impossible for him to travel. He also taught him to Skype and left a present for him to unwrap on Christmas Day.
Mr Redding, who returned home last week, said: “He’s not brilliant, but it looks like he has a little sparkle in his eye and every day he’s getting stronger because he has a little bit more life to lead now.
“It’s really made my Christmas special now, knowing that I can have time with my family and say ‘yes, I’ve done that, it’s complete’.
“Obviously I still want to go out there, but knowing that I can speak to him on Christmas Day is immense.
“There are some real special people out there to thank and especially Michelle for encouraging me to do it.
“She’s a really special woman for pushing me in the right direction.”
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