Victoria Vardy was found in a department store stairwell 33 years ago, but despite a nationwide appeal nearly a decade ago didn’t find out any information until appearing on Long Lost Family
Most people walked past a brown bag left in a department store stairwell 33 years ago – unaware there was a baby inside.
The 12-hour-old newborn laid silent until a shopper, who initially feared it might be something sinister, alerted a security guard.
Wrapped up inside the zipped up brown holdall was a tiny baby, who was named Katy Elder because she was found on Elder Street in Chesterfield.
The jaw-dropping discovery of baby Katy made headline news, but no one came forward despite campaigns and she was adopted into a loving home and given the new name Victoria Vardy.
“I don’t know where I was born. I don’t know whether it was a birth parent or someone else involved who left me here. I don’t even know if I was taken away from my mother’s arms,” says Victoria in tonight’s Long Lost Family: Born Without Trace.
Victoria makes an emotional return to the stairwell where she was found – and realises someone could easily have quickly ran in from the store and dumped her in the bag.
“To leave a baby in a department store on a busy Saturday morning, you’ve got to be desperate,” she says.
“That’s the only way you can see this child having a better life than you can provide it. Why? I’ve no idea. There’s a million reasons.
“My life has always been what happened and why.”
Victoria, who now has a daughter of her own, was adopted by Joyce and John Vardy and had a happy childhood.
Her parents kept some critical pieces of evidence to her abandonment, including the blanket, vest, onesie, fleece she was wearing and the holdall she was found in.
The only other clue is a bus ticket that was also found in the bag showing than an adult and child had travelled together.
Victoria wonders: “I have no idea if there is anything significant in that. When the police followed it up they had no leads.
“Could it have been that my mum was the adult and the child is a sibling?”
Nearly ten years ago, Victoria’s story went viral when she posted a YouTube video asking if anyone knew anything about her start to life.
Despite the nationwide media appeal for any information which followed, including a massive feature spread in the Daily Mirror titled ‘Does anyone know who I am?’, Victoria was still no further to knowing any answers.
Victoria wonders whether her birth mother thinks of her and thinks of all the major life events they have missed out on.
The Long Lost Family team hope Victoria’s DNA could solve the mystery and upload it to a database.
In a strange twist during the same episode, another foundling abandoned in Chesterfield just over 18 months apart is also trying to find out what happened to her.
Incredibly, Helen Knox was discovered in a cardboard box in the freezing cold outside a hospital just a few hundred metres from where Victoria was found.
Only a handful of babies are abandoned each year in the UK, so with two baby girls left in close proximity in the same town and with only a year-and-a-half between them, the team investigate whether there could be a connection.
While there is no link between the pair, the DNA database allows researchers to find both of Victoria’s birth parents, who are still alive.
It’s revealed it was a fleeting relationship and her birth father did not know about him at all.
While her birth mother was on her own and already had children when she got pregnant with Victoria, putting her in a difficult situation.
Victoria’s birth father married and had a son, Victoria’s half-brother, who would like to meet her off-camera.
It’s incredibly unusual to find two living birth parents, but it’s a sensitive situation which they need to take one step at a time.