A woman whose three-year-old son was abducted and taken to live in Hungary has beenreunited with him 27 years later after finding his name on Facebook.
Avril Grube last saw Gavin when his father took him on an outing to Blackpool Zoo. That was in 1982.
Instead of going to the zoo, however, Joseph Paros took the boy to Budapest in defiance of a court order.
Despite appeals via the Hungarian Embassy in London and the British Embassy in Budapest, and an appeal to Margaret Thatcher, then the Prime Minister, Mrs Grube heard nothing more of her son.
Then last October, her sister, Beryl Wilson, typed the name Gavin Paros into Google and found a link to someone of that name on the social networking site Facebook.
A frustrating wait followed. With more than 200 million users, there was a possibility that the Facebook member merely shared the name with Mrs Grube’s son.
It was several weeks before Mr Paros, now a 30-year-old father of three, checked his Facebook page and found the message from his aunt. Mother and son were reunited at 4am on Thursday after her husband Jeff picked him up from Gatwick and drove him to their home in Poole, Dorset. Mrs Grube, 61, who is partially disabled after a stroke, said: “I couldn’t sleep, I just sat waiting for him to arrive. Even though it has been nearly 30 years, when I first saw him I recognised him. He has my eyes.
“I was so overcome and just said ‘my beautiful son’ over and over again. He was very quiet and overwhelmed. We just hugged each other. It is the happiest day of my life, there are almost no words to describe it.”
The pair managed to communicate, although Mr Paros has forgotten all the English he knew as a boy and Mrs Grube does not speak Hungarian.
Mrs Grube, who has three other children, has yet to meet her daughter-in-law, Sylvia, and three grandchildren Anastasia, 10, Thomas, 7, and Angelina, 6. She hopes they will decide to move to Britain.
Mrs Wilson, 59, had spent the best part of three decades helping her sister trace her son. Because Hungary was a Communist state in 1982 on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain it made the task of tracing a three-year-old boy virtually impossible for a single mother in Liverpool. Appeals for help through official channels fell on deaf ears.
Mrs Wilson, who still lives in Liverpool, said: “Gavin’s father had visitation rights and said he was going to the zoo. Naturally, my sister was devastated. We didn’t have people around us to tell us where to go or who to speak to. We tried our MP and wrote to Margaret Thatcher but nobody was interested or wanted to help.
“Avril endured many sleepless nights, not knowing if Gavin was alive or dead. She didn’t cope very well and had a terrible time. She has a big heart and loves her children very much. As a result her own health has suffered.”
While Mrs Wilson was trying to trace Mr Paros through the internet, he had been trying to find his English family after the death of his father in 2006. Mrs Wilson said: “I tried online electoral rolls to check if Gavin had moved back to Britain, and I tried Friends Reunited, but didn’t get anywhere.
“Then one day last October I put his name into Facebook and found him. I e-mailed him but it took a while for him to respond and when he did he gave me his phone numbers.
“I called my sister when I heard back from Gavin and told her to sit down as I had some news. All I heard after that was screaming.”