A WOMAN has spoken of her joy at finally meeting her father after 46 years of being apart.
Susan Hughes spent two decades searching for her father Granville - and collapsed when she finally heard his voice.
Mr Hughes, now 89, left the North-East after an acrimonious break up with Miss Hughes' mother when she was a toddler.
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Although she did not remember her father, the 50-year-old, from Mowden, Darlington, said she never stopped thinking about him.
And in the early 1990s she began trying to reconnect with him using the limited information she knew.
But despite scouring the internet, phone books and library records over a 20-year period her searches drew a blank.
That was until she appealed to a national newspaper for help.
Within days they wrote back with an address of a man with the same name as her father.
Although apprehensive, mother-of-two Miss Hughes wrote the man a letter - and just three days later he rang her.
"When he rang I literally collapsed on my friend's floor - she thought I was having a heart attack
"I couldn't catch my breath."
After that first conversation on the phone, Miss Hughes arranged to visit her father, who is now living in Brighton after a career in the construction industry.
She said he greeted her with open arms and the pair quickly smoothed over their differences and the reasons for their long separation.
"It was a sad start to our relationshop but a happy ending," she added.
"I feel so lucky to have found him alive when he's 89."
Last week she and her brother Ian went to visit their father in Brighton for several days.
"You just can't imagine now I feel - I have been going round with a permanent smile on my face.
"My brother and I have both had difficult lives and I feel that if anybody deserves a little bit of happiness it's us.
"And now we've got it with the love of our father."
While suffering health problems last year, Miss Hughes said a friend sent her a card saying "next year's going to be your year".
"It's turned out to be true," she added.