I found my dad after 33 years on Facebook and he walked me down the aisle
Every daughter wants their father to walk them down the aisle, but for Donna Molyneux, 33 she had never even met her dad, until four weeks before her wedding day…
Donna was born into a cramped family home in Birmingham with bar lady mum Linda, 52 grandparents, two aunties and uncles.
Aged four her mum married her partner Paul and they moved into their own home in Rugby. Linda and Paul then went onto have two children Steven (now 29) and Sarah (now 27)
It could have been a happy family home, but it wasn't an enjoyable childhood for Donna, as she always felt something was missing.
“I didn't really have great time as a child. I always felt I wasn't part of the family because my dad should have been around.”
“I have always dreamed of getting married with my father walking me down the aisle. It was a fantasy, a fairy tale that could never happen.”
“Lots of my friend's parents were divorced, but they still had contact with their dad. I didn't even have that. If he was dead at least I would have closure.
“I didn't feel I belonged anywhere. I wasn't very close to my mum, who I always felt was closer with my half brother and sister.”
She often wondered what had happened to her dad, was he alive and did he care about her?
When she asked her mother about her father, she wasn't provided much information.
“It obviously touched a raw nerve. It must have been hard for mum to go back over the past.
“Every time I asked she would change the subject. She said he was still alive and his first name, Bill, and that was it. She said she didn't know much about him.”
Linda had had a short relationship with Bill in 1979 and had only slept together a couple of times.
Donna had to get on with her life and had two children Charlie, now 16 and Jordan, now 15 but she split with Carl,53 in 2000.
Occasionally her children would ask if they had a grand dad and she would say she wasn't sure.
But her life began to change after dialling a wrong number, lead her to the man of her dreams
“I called a number and Ruben, 37 answered it. I had dialled a wrong number, but we got chatting and we arranged to meet.
“He came to visit me a week later and he never left!”
The couple went on to have two children Corey, 9 and Bobby, 2.
Painter and decorator Ruben then got down on one knee in the Kyber Pass curry house in Birmingham. On the 1st January 2013 and she said yes.
The couple booked the wedding for the 24th August 2013 at Solihull registry office, with a reception at the Meriden social club.
But watching a TV show got Donna thinking about her missing dad and her wedding day.
“I would watch Long Lost Family on ITV and I would get really upset every time it was on.
“Ruben said it was because I wanted my dad to be with me at the wedding and I needed to confront my mum once and for all to find out who he is.
On the 29th July 2013 Donna took her mum for a coffee for showdown talks and pleaded with her for one last time for his name.
She said she needed her dad to be there. Without her father giving her away, she couldn't go ahead with the wedding.
“She finally gave in and told me his second name was Sneddon. I only had a month to find my dad and persuade him to take me down the aisle. It wasn't much information to go on, but I was determined to find him.
“I immediately went on 192.com and there were too many Bill Sneddons. Ruben said I should try Facebook.
“I thought it was unlikely that my dad, would be on their especially at his age.
“I put his name into a Facebook search. The search brought up quite a few people with the same name, but one stood out, he looked so much like me. It had to be him.”
Donna worked up the courage and sent a message to him, but she didn't hear anything for TWO days. Eventually, she got a message back, but it had been the longest two days of her life. But the reply was tinged with sadness.
“I was so relieved when I got a reply, especially when he said he probably was my dad.
“He also told me that that morning he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, but this news had made all his stress and worries go away.”
It was a very surreal day for dad Bill, who had received the news of his cancer only hours before.
Stock taker Bill, 59 says,
“It was all a massive shock. I had just been told I had got prostate cancer that morning. When I got home I put on Facebook and saw a friend request from Donna.
“I clicked on the profile and as soon as I saw her, I thought that's my daughter. I was diagnosed with cancer and found my long lost daughter in one day. It was a lot to take in.”
“I had only met Donna's mum three times and Donna once when she was a few weeks old. I wasn't even certain if she was mine.
“I did think I had a daughter out there. I have told mates throughout the years. I joked that one day I would get a knock at the door.
They decided to meet as soon as possible, especially as Bill might not have much time left.
“When he hugged me I knew he was my dad, he just felt right in my arms.
“We talked for hours and he said he always wondered about me, but when my mum was pregnant, he was told they didn't want him to be around.
“He said he had no choice, so he moved away and decided to move on with his life. It was heart breaking for him.
“I said maybe we should get a DNA test to prove I was his daughter. But he said there was no need, he was sure he was my father.”
Donna also found out she had a half-sister Kath, 26 and half-brother David, 29. Bill's also has a partner of five years Liz, 58
Although it was a joyous day, there were also concerns as Bill's health was failing and he was due to have an imminent operation to remove the cancer.
A week later, days before Bill's life-saving operation, Donna made the trip to his home in Spalding, Lincs 105 miles away, to ask him an important question.
“I asked him if he would take me down the aisle. He said he would be there even if he was dying.
“It was so touching, as he hardly even knew me.”
It was only two weeks before the wedding when he went under the knife.
It is a very sensitive operation and he was in hospital until the day before the wedding, but he swore he would make it there.
But not everyone in the family was happy about it.
“I told my mum and sister that dad was going to give me away and they were very upset. We had an argument and they refused to come to the wedding.
“I wanted my dad to give me away. It was my day I could invite who I wanted.”
“On the day I was so nervous dad wouldn't make it, but at 2 o'clock an hour before the service, he arrived at my house.
“He told me I looked beautiful and he was honoured to be there. He was obviously struggling after his operation, but he tried not to let it show.”
“When we got in the wedding carriage he held my hand. He could tell I was nervous and he wanted to reassure me it would be alright.
“Wedding days are always emotional, but having my long lost dad walk me down the aisle was simply too much. I was in floods of tears. My make-up was ruined!”
The intimate reception lasted an hour and afterwards the family went together for pictures outside the registry office.
After the pictures Bill had to go home, he was in a lot of pain and was still recovering from major surgery. He had battled through the ceremony but was not able to carry on the celebrations.
On the way home, her proud father texted to say he was so happy to be there and wished he could have stayed longer.
“I wasn't very well and I couldn't make reception, but I just wanted to be there for the wedding and to give her away. I would have crawled there if I had to.
“It didn't feel strange walking down the aisle, it felt natural.
“I cried all the way home. I felt bad that I had missed her growing up. I regret not being there for her when she was down.”
But Donna wished all her family could have been there on her special day.
“Of course I would have preferred it if all my family could have been there on the day. But it was my day and I wanted it to be how I always dreamed about it.”
The couple didn't have a honeymoon, as they didn't want to leave their young children. But they had one night in a plush hotel. That evening Donna went to bed knowing her father had made her childhood dreams come true.
“I was so happy my dad saw me get married. Sadly I have not seen him since the wedding, but we talk on the phone every day.
“Meeting each other has opened a new chapter in our lives and I just want to say to anyone out there looking for loved ones, to never give up.
“We both needed each other at this point in our lives and it really is a miracle. It is time to start getting to know each other properly.
“But I do want to heal the rift with the rest of my family.”
Now they are reunited they have been given even more good news. Bill was given the all clear from his cancer operation.
“We have grown ever closer over the last few weeks. Now he is better, I can finally be daddy's girl.”
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