Madeleine McCann’s parents were given fresh hope she may be found after a British girl stolen by travellers was reunited with her family 53 years on.
Susan Gervaise, then four, vanished in 1969 when a traveller family offered to take her on holiday to Disneyland, California, US, with their children – and never brought her back.
She was taken to Canada, Australia and New Zealand by her new "mum and dad" who lied they had adopted her.
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Her UK family spent five decades desperately searching for her, and they have now been reunited after Susan’s husband posted an appeal on Facebook in Australia.
Within 30 minutes her relatives in Pontefract, West Yorks, quickly found out about it and responded, with Susan now reunited with her four siblings.
The mum-of-three spoke out to give hope to other relatives of missing children such as the McCanns whose daughter Madeleine vanished aged three on holiday in Portugal in 2007.
Susan, who lives in Australia and herself has four grandchildren, said: "As a child I lived with my six siblings in an old vicarage on a traveller's site. We weren’t travellers.
"My mum was on her own and we were all in and out of foster care. I was befriended by a couple on the site who were from Scotland, the woman, who I call my mum, had MS and they had two sons. I think they wanted a girl.
"They asked my mum if they could take me to Disney World and she gave them my birth certificate so I could be put on their passport. Instead, they took me to Canada, then Australia and later New Zealand."
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Susan, whose family surname is Preece, was told she had been put for adoption after her biological parents disowned her.
She added: "I lived with the travelling community and lived a cherished life where I was spoiled rotten. My mum died from MS when I was 10, but even then, being raised in the hub of a travelling community I was very loved.
"I have always been happy growing up. I travelled the world.
Susan, who runs the Fresh Start Mission charity with her traveller husband Hamilton, 57, found out the truth when she needed to upgrade her passport and could not trace any evidence of an adoption.
Susan added: "The enormity of what happened to me didn’t hit me. I just carried on with my life. It was only when somebody who was adopted asked me what my family back in the UK would be feeling and that was a lightbulb moment for me.
"When I spoke to my family they were crying hysterically because I was alive."
She timed her visit to the UK to meet them with her 57th birthday so she could throw a party with her family. Tragically her biological mum died eight years ago without knowing her daughter was safe.
Susan said: "To this day we don’t know why the police were never involved. I'm thinking it must have been because my mum gave them permission to take me and the fact we were in and out of foster care.
"But there have been several appeals through Missing Persons over the years and my mum continually returned to the traveller’s site after moving away to look for me. There is hope."
Madeleine’s parents Gerry and Kate were unavailable for comment yesterday.
But a source close to the family said: "They have always said that until they are faced with incontrovertible evidence to the contrary they will continue to believe Madeleine could still be alive and they may one day be reunited with her."
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