Missing mum: Breda Curran

Beaten, starved and handed over to paedophiles, Donna Ford’s childhood was destroyed by her stepmother after her biological mother disappeared.

In 2003, Donna watched as Helen Ford was finally found guilty in a court of law of inflicting horrific abuse on her and her brother.

It is testament to Donna’s strength of character that, not only has she survived her traumatic upbringing, she has thrived as an adult.

She is now a mother of three, a successful artist and a well regarded author of two moving memoirs.

Donna’s famous story of survival is testament to her strong spirit, a truly inspirational tale of triumph over tragedy.

Donna’s Childhood

Donna’s story begins as a baby abandoned by her birth mum, Breda. Aged five, her stepmother moved in and six years of shocking abuse follow. She was threatened with a red hot poker and forced to spend hours in a rat infested coal cellar. Later, she was victim to horrific sexual abuse. Donna grew up with her older brother Adrian. He too was subjected to physical, mental and sexual abuse.

As they grew up they tried to blank out memories of their past, even hiding the truth from their partners. Many years later, whilst watching a TV programme about child abuse, Adrian finally snapped. He called the police and started criminal proceedings against their step-mother, Helen. Helen was convicted in 2003, and Donna and Adrian had closure of sorts. But there was still unfinished business. They wanted to find their missing mother, Breda.

The Search for their Missing Mum

The story Donna and Adrian have been told is that one night in 1960, Breda’s partner Don Ford returned home to find the house in a mess, the family in debt, the children ill and Breda partying. After an argument Breda walked out never to return. But this is just his version of events. Adrian and Donna’s research has not yet led them to finding Breda, but it has given them an insight into her character. She was described by people who knew her as a good mother, loving and caring.

Adrian and his wife Heather have been searching for his missing biological mother, Breda, since 1997. They have sourced social workers’ files, questioned relatives and hired private detectives. Donna has also been looking. She’s even tried to retrace her mother’s steps by looking round her home town in Tipperary, Ireland.

Breda’s partner and Donna’s dad, Don Ford, refused to talk about her. He died in 1983. Will the secret of Donna and Adrian’s missing mum go with him to the grave?

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