A MOTHER and son who had not seen each other for 52 years were reunited at a county hotel.

Stephen Haywood lives in Cornwall with his partner Jan and spends most of his time with his two daughters and grandson.

But he has always longed to meet his birth mother Sheila Apperley and for years avoided celebrating major milestones in his or his children's lives until he met her.

Producers at ITV programme Long Lost Family granted his wish when they tracked down Mrs Apperley and discovered that she gave up Mr Haywood for adoption when she lived in Glewstone.

Therefore, they arranged for the couple to be reunited at Glewstone Court.

"The whole crew were amazing, I couldn't have asked for any more," said Mrs Apperley, who now lives in Putley Green, near Ledbury.

"I have kept in touch with Stephen by phone and my daughter Sarah speaks to him by email a lot.

"He is due to come up here in September, so we'll catch up a lot more then."

Mr Haywood grew up in Australia with his adoptive parents Constance and Anthony.

The family returned to England when he was 16, but he struggled to fit in and started to think about his birth mother.

"I often wondered whether my mother was still alive," said Mr Haywood.

"I missed someone I never knew – that was the bit that hurts."

Mr Haywood's adoption file led to the discovery of Mrs Apperley and she came from a large family that did not have the means to care for her son when she fell pregnant.

The paperwork also revealed that it was Mrs Apperley that gave him the name Stephen.

"I was somebody and she had given me that name," said Mr Haywood.

"I know we must have formed a bond with each other."

Mr Haywood recently underwent a difficult operation and he believes his need to find his birth mother helped him pull through.

Mrs Apperley said she was overwhelmed when she discovered he had been searching for her.

"It was a bit of a shock because I never thought I would see him again," she said.

"Everyone who arranged it were just wonderful."