A MUM who went missing for 32 years after suffering memory loss in a car crash abroad has finally been reunited with her family in South Yorkshire.
Susan Marshall suffered total amnesia after the smash in 1975 - and ended up living with strangers on a South African farm while her family in the UK feared she was dead.
But after regaining some of her memory and tracking down her siblings online the 61-year-old was flown back to the UK.
Today she is back home in Rotherham, settling into a new flat just around the corner from her long-lost brother and sisters.
Susan said: “I can’t believe I am back home. I knew my family would never forget me but I didn’t think this day would ever come.
“I am so happy.”
A MISSING woman whose family had almost given her up for dead is back in the arms of her brother and sisters for the first time in 32 years.
It’s a happy ending to a heartbreaking story for 61-year-old Susan Marshall – who suffered amnesia in a car crash in South Africa when she was just 29.
Her father and mother, Colin and Mavis, never left the house in Holmes, Rotherham, where they were living when Susan lost contact, in the hope she would return.
Tragically her parents never lived to see her again – both died three years ago, Colin aged 82 and Mavis aged 79.
Susan said: “I loved them both. We were very close. I knew they would never give up hope for me.
“They never moved house because they knew I would come home one day. But I am too late.”
But now Susan is rebuilding her life with sisters Dawn, 58, Gail, 54, and Julie, 51, and her brother Colin, 39.
He said: “It’s fantastic to have Susan back. There are so many emotions and to be honest it is still sinking in. It doesn’t feel real. It is going to take time for her to readjust but at least she is back where she belongs, with her family.”
Susan, a mum-of-four, had emigrated to South Africa with her husband Sid in 1975.
But in 1980 the couple were involved in a horrific car crash which flung her from the vehicle and into a farmer’s field.
Susan was left with total amnesia – and Sid, who survived the crash, returned to the UK and told their four children, Susan’s parents, and her siblings that she had abandoned them.
Her family in the UK tried to trace her, using the Salvation Army, Red Cross and even Cilla Black’s TV show Surprise Surprise, but always drew a blank.
But, in an incredible twist, last November Susan started to regain some of her memory, and thanks to a friend managed to track down her siblings on Facebook.
Now she has been flown back to the UK, and shared a tearful reunion.
She has also moved into a sheltered housing scheme at Birch Park Court, Holmes, where her parents lived.
Her sister Gail Lewin, of Meadowbank, Rotherham, said: “We’ve all got a lot of catching up to do but at the moment we’re just taking everything one day at a time.
“We’re all helping Susan to acclimatise to her new life and get settled into her new home. Because she only came here on an emergency passport there was quite a lot of red tape to get her here.”
When Susan came round after the accident she was suffering severe amnesia and couldn’t even remember her name.
She had no identification and, going by the name of Nicky, lived with the family who owned the farm for 16 years before moving to Johannesburg.
Sid, who died earlier this year, returned to the UK with another woman and refused to give Susan’s family any clue about what had happened to her.
But a year ago Susan suddenly started remembering her siblings’ first names and her maiden name Ardron – though she still had no idea of her own first name.
A friend searched Facebook and found people with the same name as her siblings living in South Yorkshire, and wrote to them asking if they had a missing sister.
The shocked siblings wrote back to say they did, but suspected a hoax. They asked for a picture and, the moment it appeared, they recognised Susan and burst into tears of joy.
Soon, they were all speaking on the phone.
Susan is now also rebuilding a relationship with her daughter Adele, 37, and is hoping to meet her other daughters Joanne, 43, and Amanda, 38, who no longer live in South Yorkshire. She is also hoping to trace her son Jason, 40, with whom the family has lost touch.
For now her relatives are rallying round to help Susan furnish her new flat, as she arrived with almost nothing of her own.
“We’re asking friends, neighbours and anyone with any spare furniture or household items they can donate to help us furnish and equip the flat,” said Gail. “We want to make it feel like a proper home for her after all these years away. Guinness Northern Counties have been really helpful at every stage. They’ve let us decorate the flat how Susan wants it and they’re going to put new carpets down for her.”
Anyone who can help is asked to contact Vicky Schofield, scheme manager at Birch Park Court, on 01709 563901.