An Echo photograph dating back more than 30 years has helped to reunite a daughter with the dad she never knew.
Jade Hartley, 32, grew up in her hometown of Seaham without knowing her dad Tony King.
Tony, who is from the Carribean island of Barbados, got into a relationship with Jade’s mum Glynis when he played for Seaham Harbour Cricket Club in the summers of 1981 and 1982.
But after Glynis fell pregnant with Jade, Tony’s contract with the club ended and he returned home without keeping in touch.
For her whole life, Jade’s only keepsake of Tony was a sports picture published in the Echo during Tony’s time at the cricket club.
After decades of anguish at not knowing her dad, a desperate Jade, who admits she suffered from some racist abuse because of her mixed-race appearance, applied to ITV’s Long Lost Family programme, presented by Nicky Campbell and Davina McCall.
Using the photograph and Tony’s name, producers managed to track down Tony, now aged 56 and living back in Barbados.
“My mam never kept anything from me growing up so I always knew who my dad was,” said Jade, 32, who works as a hairdresser.
“But there was no one else who was mixed race in my family and I stood out. I’d always wanted to find him but I didn’t have a clue where to start.
“When I couldn’t track him down using Facebook and Google, that’s when I decided to apply for the programme.”
After Nicky found records of Tony’s playing days, he went to meet him in Barbados, where he is now umpiring cricket matches.
He agreed to see Jade, culminating in an emotional reunion between the pair at the cricket club where he had played more than three decades ago.
“Everything still feels like a blur,” added Jade.
“I was so taken aback when they told me they’d found him, because I never thought I’d hear those words.
“I was nervous, but excited as well on the day we met. We got on straight away and we’re already close even though we’ve not known each other very long.”
Tony, who has a son from another relationship, is in regular contact with Jade with the pair planning to meet up again soon.
“He definitely wants to come back here next year but I will be going to Barbados before then.
“He’s got his son but his mam is still alive, so I’ve got a grandma and cousins to meet.
“This has opened up a whole new side of my family.
“I feel different as a person since this all happened, because now I know where the other side of me comes from.”