Could you be this woman's long-lost Hatfield sibling?
PUBLISHED: 17:01 25 June 2018 | UPDATED: 17:45 25 June 2018
supplied by Gilli Tooling
A woman is trying to trace four relatives who moved to Hatfield in the 1980s - and may not even know they have a half-sister.
When Gilli Cooling, from Carshalton, turned 70, she was given an ancestry DNA test as a birthday present.
She was adopted as a baby in 1948, and never knew her birth mother, who was unmarried when she became pregnant.
She told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “I was ‘illegitimate’,” she said. “In 1948, unmarried mothers were not able to keep their offspring.
“That’s just the way things were.”
Gilli always knew she was adopted, and says she was well provided for, but her adoptive parents declined to talk about her birth family.
She grew up to have a career in oncology, working for many years with the Royal Marsden cancer hospital.
In the 1980s, the policy was to seek therapy before attempting to find a birth family, a process which, along with all the possible emotional complications for all involved, made Gilli put aside the idea of looking for her birth mother.
If she is still alive, she would be in her 90s now. “I don’t know how fragile she is,” said Gilli.
But this year, when the ancestry search revealed that she had four half-siblings, she finally decided to try and make contact with them.
“I thought very long and hard about what to do,” she said, “but I would really like to have contact with my siblings.”
Her birth mother had gone on to marry a different father, with the name of Williams.
She had Susan in 1951, Peter in 1952, Sylvia in 1954 and Karen in 1961.
Gilli has found out that the family were living Hatfield some time in the 1980s.
But with a name as common as Williams, that’s all she knows.
It is also possible that the family may have moved away.
Keen gardener Gilli grew up in Essex - “I don’t sound like it, but I’m an Essex girl!” she said.
Once retired, she began volunteering at a local youth gardening project.
Living with her cat Lexi, she stays limber with tap and jazz classes three times a week, and joins a weekly French conversation class, and chairs the local organic gardening group.
But as she had no children, she’s never had a family of blood relations.
“It would be wonderful for me to find somebody I looked like,” she said.
“It’s something that I’ve never had.
“I may just draw a complete blank, who knows.
“I suppose I’ll just have to keep on digging.”
Asked what she would say to her half-siblings today, Gilli said simply: “Get in touch.
“I would love to hear from you.”
If you would like to contact Gilli, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org