London - Abandoned as a baby in a blackberry bush, Anthea Ring has spent decades trying to find her birth parents.
And now, 80 years after she was found, the mystery has been solved – after saliva on the back of a 30-year-old postage stamp matched her DNA.
The discovery has confirmed the identity of Ring’s father and allowed her to contact his relatives.
Ring, now 81, became Britain's most famous abandoned baby when she was discovered in August 1937, aged nine months, crying in a blackberry bush near Worthing, Sussex.
Her hands had been bound with a strip of material from her ripped pink dress and she was covered in scratches, but otherwise she was healthy and appeared cared for.
Police launched an attempted murder investigation but never solved the mystery of who abandoned her or why. She was eventually adopted by a family in Surrey.
But after the mother-of-two became a grandparent, she decided in 1994 to try to discover the identity of her biological parents.
And the puzzle has now been solved, thanks to a speck of DNA on a stamp on a letter sent by her birth father to another relative 30 years ago.
Family history detective Julia Bell had established her father was likely to be one of six brothers from the Coyne family in County Galway, in the west of Ireland. But researchers could not confirm which brother until letters from one, Patrick, were found, and saliva on a stamp confirmed he was a match. Ring, of Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire, said: "Being able to track down my family has been incredible.
"I’m delighted to have found the final piece in the puzzle of my family history. Who would have thought that stamps from decades-old letters were the key to unlocking my story?
"I can now finally tell my children and grandchildren about their roots and where they came from." Although Patrick has died, she is in contact with his wider family.
In 2016, experts traced her late mother’s roots to County Mayo, using global DNA databases which identified distant cousins. Records of illegitimate births suggested her mother was Ellen O’Donnell, who was born in 1911.
Experts are still unsure as to how shecame to be abandoned in a blackberry bush, but doubt it was by her birth mother. One theory is that she was abandoned by a foster parent.