Mark’s birth mother Moira was nineteen years old in 1963 when she became pregnant by Roger. Moira’s parents made the decision that she should have her baby adopted – she was therefore sent to Dartmoor during her pregnancy before going to Torquay for the birth. Baby David Christopher (as Mark was then known) was then taken to Exeter ready to be adopted.
Dorothy 39 and Henry 43 had been married for seventeen years at this time and Mark is unsure why they didn’t or couldn’t have birth children. However, they had made the wonderful decision to adopt and so Baby David Christopher became Baby Mark and grew up in the Exeter area.
Mark was painfully shy as a child and as a result suffered from bullying at school – not physical but mental – which makes his decision to become a radio and TV presenter all the more admirable. Mark explains that he has become good at ‘hiding’ his bashfulness and has developed strategies to cope.
Despite only giving Mark a quick cuddle before he was whisked away, Moira never forgot her baby boy. Thinking of him often, especially on his birthday and at Christmas wondering what he was doing.
Whilst studying for his ‘A’ levels in 1980 Mark spotted an advert for a Saturday job with Devon Air Radio, moving on to Radio Devon in 1983. A colleague then suggested he complete a course as a Radio Journalist. This Mark did before returning to Radio Devon. It was at this time that Mark first considered tracing his birth parents and he took a trip to Somerset House to view the marriage records, presuming that his birth mother would now be married. Unfortunately following Mark’s birth, Moira’s father had decided to move the whole family to Australia meaning that Mark could find no evidence of his birth mother marrying in the records held there.
Mark’s next career move was to Television South West (TSW) in 1989 before he successfully secured a job on London Weekend Television’s (LWT) Saint & Greavsie’s Football Show. By now it was 1990 and Mark decided it was time to begin his detective work again.
From his original birth certificate Mark knew his birth father’s address and wondered if perhaps his paternal grandparents were still there, he was really enjoying the thrill of the chase. He decided to phone! At this point, Mark was keen to emphasise that this really wasn’t the way to do things but he rushed headlong into it. The telephone call was answered by Mark’s paternal grandmother – explaining he was an old colleague of Roger’s he asked for his address to send an invitation to a reunion. Grandmother happily gave this over and also mentioned where Roger was currently working. So off set Mark. He says his meeting with Roger was a strange one with Roger immediately realising he was his son – because of ‘his eyes’. Roger explained that he had known Moira was pregnant but had never been told about the baby’s birth. He was however, able to tell Mark that Moira and her family had emigrated to Australia and provided Mark with her parents’ address. This meeting with Roger has been the only one Mark has had.
So, Mark had his maternal grandparents’ address. He wrote a letter explaining that he was hoping to get in touch with Moira. Paternal grandfather had by this time died and grandmother was very happy to pass on Mark’s letter, knowing how her daughter had always remembered her baby boy. So Moira and Mark were now back in touch. For Mark the next step was to fly to Australia and meet his birth mother.
Moira had married an Austrian gentleman shortly after arriving in Australia and had two further children – so Mark was meeting not only his birth mother but his two half sisters (who now have children of their own). The girls were excited about meeting their brother as Moira had always been honest with them about the baby she had given up for adoption.
Wagga Wagga – halfway between Sydney and Melbourne – is where the family lived and Mark’s description of arriving on a grass runway and carrying his suitcase off the plane sounds like the start of an Indiana Jones film! Although Mark felt a bond with his mother and half sisters, it perhaps wasn’t quite as strong as he’d anticipated on that long flight to Australia.
Following his visit to Australia, Mark became part of the Westcountry Television Franchise bid and secured the position of Sports Presenter. Mark continues to present the news on West Country Tonight in conjunction with freelance work and running his own sound & vision media company SAV Media Academy www.savmedia.co.uk
Mark is now happily married to Carolyn and the very proud father of two children, James aged six and Laura aged four. The family live near Exeter and Mark plans to take the whole family to Australia in four years time so that James and Laura can meet their extended family there.
In conclusion Mark said “I am not recommending that people should trace or not. I needed to do so regardless of a happy or not happy outcome. I needed to know my story, good or bad. You need to do this in your own time, when it is right for you. The outcome you hope for may be different to the one you get – it may be better, it may not. But for me it has been absolutely brilliant and I’m glad I did it. It’s comforting now that my adoptive parents have died to know that somewhere in the world I have someone.”