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Help me find ‘Luigi’, mystery Italian dad who I’ve never met

Woman’s appeal in bid to track down man her mum had a night of romance with in the 1960s

23 October, 2020 — By Calum Fraser

Cathy Burchell: ‘Everybody should know where they came from’

A WOMAN is calling on Islington’s Italian community to help her track down the father she has never met.

Cathy Burchell, who grew up in Highbury, has spent the past three years trying to find him through the small scraps of information she has.

Her mother, Angela, met him in the autumn of 1967 in what was then The Angel bar in Angel. He had come over from Italy for a holiday and did not speak English.

Angela herself was new to the UK having moved to London only a year earlier from Ireland.

She was charmed by the Italian who chatted through his English-speaking Italian acquaintance – Cathy doesn’t know if this was a family member or a friend.

Cathy’s mum Angela

Cathy, 52, said: “My mum was at the pub with her friend. He was there. They obviously got on, then ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom – I popped out nine months later.

“Mum only got his first name, which she thinks is Luigi, but it could also be Lugo. It’s not like they had Facebook back then, so he went back to Italy and he’s never been seen again.”

The mother-of-two added: “I say to Mum, ‘It would have been nice if you had got his surname’. She just says, ‘it was the 60s’ so…”

Angela was 19 and Cathy’s father – who had black wavy hair and blue eyes – said he was also 19, meaning he would now be in his early 70s.

Cathy as a baby

Cathy said: “I had a step-dad and I have got half-brothers and sisters, so I’ve been happy, but I have always just wanted to know. Everybody should know where they came from. Even if I did find him and he didn’t want to meet me, that would be fine. It’s not like I’ll be asking for back-payments on pocket money. I don’t really look like my mum and my personality is different, so I think, has that come from his side?”

Cathy, who is a safeguarding officer for the police, has taken a DNA test which has thrown up scores of possible distant Italian relatives, all of who can trace themselves back to a town near Venice called Chioggia.

She said: “I think the closest I can get is third or fourth cousins and great-great-grandparents. The problem is when you go that far back in Italy you get families of like 15 and 16 children, so they don’t all know each other now. Also, the surnames I am coming up with for the cousins is like Boscolo, which is the equivalent of Smith in this country.”

The Italian town of Chioggia

Cathy placed an advert in a local newspaper in Chioggia asking for information but got no responses. She is now hoping that someone in the Italian communities of Angel and Clerkenwell could help her.

The last clue Cathy has is that her father told her mother he was due to marry someone back in Italy, so any information about weddings in the Chioggia area in 1967 or 1968 could be helpful.

She added: “I know this is a longshot, but what other choice do I have? If anyone thinks they might know anything, please help.”

• To contact Cathy email: cathybb@hotmail.co.uk

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