By Becca Husselbee
Two young adults with Down’s Syndrome have discovered that they are family after a connecting relative spotted them both on the same page of a magazine.
Bryony Smissen, 20, and Jamie Clark, 27, both featured in the Down2Earth Magazine, produced twice a year by the Down’s Syndrome Association for its members, but had no idea that their mums, Sue Clark and Theresa Smissen, shared a cousin until seeing their stories next to each other.
Linda was adopted by Sue’s aunt and uncle back in 1950’s, and after searching for her blood relatives found her cousin, Theresa Simissen, some years later.
But after Linda saw Sue’s son, Jamie, and Theresa’s daughter, Bryony, appear next to each other in the magazine, she made the connection before the families were able to meet for the first time.
Bryony said: “One day when Linda came over and I showed her I was in the Down2Earth magazine, she saw someone called Jamie who she recognised as her cousin’s son.
“That was funny because my mum is her cousin too. We were on the same page as each other.”
Bryony and Jamie live more than 300 miles apart and had no idea that their mums shared a cousin until, after seeing their stories next to each other in the magazine, the pieces of the jigsaw were put together.
Bryony, who lives in Morecambe in Lancashire and Jamie, who is from Dover in Kent, both have Down’s syndrome and had got in touch with the magazine back in early 2018.
Both were pleased when they were featured in the September 2018 issue after Bryony had written about her ambition to be a journalist and Jamie’s story spoke about his progress since he had been featured in the magazine 25 years ago as a baby.
The family connection came to light when Bryony’s mum Theresa had her cousin Linda to visit and Bryony proudly showed Linda her article in the magazine.
Linda instantly recognised the face on the next page as Jamie – her adopted cousin Sue’s son.
Theresa said: “I was surprised and delighted with the coincidence of Bryony and Jamie’s stories appearing on the same page of the magazine, and even more pleased to then have the opportunity of meeting him and his parents.
“It’s very special as it connects two parts of my lovely cousin Linda’s life in the most unexpected and serendipitous way.”
Direct contact was made between the families via text message but the distance between their homes made getting together in person a challenge.
Sue and Jamie happened to be travelling back from a trip to Scotland when one text arrived and soon a plan was hatched for the two families to meet at The Blackpool Football Club, which was a treat that had been booked for Jamie’s birthday.
The families only met for an hour, but it was a meeting that will be remembered forever.
Sue said: “They just clicked. They were so happy to meet each other.
“I feel like two families have been united, all because of a magazine.
“Without the piece in Down2Earth the two families would be none the wiser of the connections.
“Since the piece, another cousin of mine and Linda’s has been to visit after 25 years of no contact.
“It’s quite incredible how this has come about.”
Bryony said: “I was so excited to go to Blackpool because it’s my favourite place, and to meet Jamie who was on the same page as me.
“We didn’t know each other but we both like football. Without Linda we wouldn’t have met – two strangers on the same page.”