THERE was an emotional reunion this week as a Highclere man came face-to-face with the abandoned baby he rescued from under a holly bush 50 years ago.
Martin Palmer, of Tubbs Lane, was just 15 when he made the discovery close to his family home in Broadlayings, Woolton Hill, on August 27, 1967.
This month that tiny baby, now a grandmother herself, knocked on his door and simply asked for a hug.
Sandra Olah, who lives in Queensland, Australia, with her husband Bill, three children and five grandchildren, made the journey back to North Hampshire in search of her family history and managed to track Mr Palmer down after a Newbury Weekly News reporter sent her a copy of the front page story about her rescue from 1967.
“Although it was 50 years ago I can still remember my feelings that day,” said Mr Palmer.
“It was scary and such a shock for me to find Sandra. I have never forgotten that day and have always wondered what became of that little baby.
“It took a moment for it to sink in when Sandra knocked on the door, but it was a real pleasant surprise.
“I am just so grateful that this has all happened and that Sandra is okay and has had such a happy life.
“It is brilliant and there is no more wondering what happened now. It is really quite emotional.”
Mrs Olah said: “I am just so excited.
“It was a nice meeting with Martin that first time and it just felt right. It wasn’t awkward at all.
“It has all been a very positive experience. It is just nice to know where I was born and where my roots are.
“It is a lovely area and I feel really blessed to have been born there.”
Mr Palmer still vividly remembers the day that he and his friend were walking along Broadlayings and heard a muffled sound that they first thought was a cat.
“I remember carefully lifting this little bundle out from under the brambles and thorns and rushing it to where my mother was,” he recalled.
“My mother had trained at Sandleford Hospital and she ran the nursing home Broadmead, so I ran back there.
“She called the baby Holly and had wanted to keep her at first, but the ambulance came and took Sandra off to Sandleford Hospital.”
Mrs Olah, whose family moved to Australia when she was very young, began her search after finding her adoption certificate in a locked box after her adoptive parents died.
She has also managed to find her biological mother, who no longer lives in the area, and said their first meeting was “good but unusual”.
“You should know someone and you don’t,” she said.
“We spent time together and we got to know each other.
“I just wanted it to work and I wanted to go there with loving arms.
“Of course, there were questions why, but it was just down to circumstances back in those days.”
She has also discovered she has a half brother and sister and said the family resemblance was striking. They all now plan to keep in touch.
Mrs Olah has also been given the name of her father and is trying to see if she can find him too before she returns to Australia.