To exclude, to expel:
Audrey Clifford ran away from home at the age of 20 and was blamed by her husband for Brian’s death. She left six-week-old Leon and her two-year-old sister Nikki in their care
Image: Leon Towers)
For 45 years, Audrey Clifford has watched her son and daughter grow up without her – knowing they blamed her for their father’s death.
Even if his son Leon Towers is known by millions as a TV animal expert, Audrey believes she is someone who will never be allowed to know him as she should.
She ran away from home at age 20, blamed for her husband Brian’s death by her husband, and left six-week-old Leon and two-year-old sister Nikki in their care.
And during their lifetime, Leon and Nikki were told that it was Audrey’s fault, their father was dead.
The truth only begins to emerge when dog behaviorist Leon, lost in a world where he “doesn’t belong anywhere,” decides to research his past.
He asked again Facebook if someone already knows his dad and is surprised when old family friends start contacting.
“I never really felt like I belonged anywhere,” he admits. I have moved everywhere but have never found a place that is home.
“That’s why I decided to try and learn more. I went on Facebook asking if anyone knew my dad – I really wasn’t expecting what happened next.”
Leon learns that his mother has been scapegoated by his father’s family, forcing her to flee without him and Nikki.
When he finally tracked her down on social media, he was contacted by an emotional message telling her: “Sorry for the life you’ve lived. You have nothing but misery. “
Audrey replied four minutes later and they spoke for the first time.
She tells him that she was too scared to try to contact him all those years because she thought he hated her, his mind was poisoned by the husband’s family. her deceased. Father-of-three Leon, 46, said: “We started talking every day. We have a lot to catch up on.
“On my birthday last June, she sent me 46 birthday cards.
“She’d never sent me before so she sent me all sorts of things – for a one-year-old, two-year-old… all the way.”
Leon and his mother had an emotional reunion last summer in Ireland, where Audrey has made a new life.
“Mum lives alone and never celebrates Christmas or birthdays,” he said.
“She has lived in solitude for 46 years – she has no family, no gifts and no gatherings. When I went to see her, we weren’t going anywhere, we just sat and talked for two weeks. It was great to be with her.”
Audrey, 66 – who has also reunited with Nikki, now 48 – said: “I was as nervous as jelly as I waited for him at the airport.
“It was a mixture of butterflies, excitement and shock. As he walked through the door, he ran up to me and hugged me. It’s so perfect. ”
Leon, originally from Maryport, Cumbria, explains: “She was 16 when they got married and she had me and my sister shortly after.
“For years we were told that Mother was responsible for our father’s death. We believe she killed him. He died when he was only 20 years old.
“As far as I know, it was not a happy marriage. They are too young.
“Our grandfather always told us she was to blame. But now I know he died of a drug overdose. That night when I got home, Mom lay next to Dad all night without knowing I was sleeping next to Dad’s body.
As a result, the family was torn apart, and he and his sister found themselves being nurtured. “It was not a happy childhood,” Leon said. I ended up running away at 14 o’clock”.
He moved around the country, living in Manchester, London and Brighton and eventually building a successful television career.
Then, while locking the door, he decided to explore the history of his family. He said: “I always felt like an alien, I moved a lot.
“So I decided to learn about my past. When I got back to Maryport, I didn’t know the truth about Mom and Dad. I still blame her for his death.
“I was surprised how many people knew him. What I discovered shocked me.
“My grandfather believed that she had killed his son and was determined to make her pay. It drove a wedge through our family.
“Mother is young, vulnerable. She eventually left town and moved to Ireland. She believes we hate her for killing our father and wouldn’t believe her if she told her story.”
Leon was moved to see that Audrey had kept a scrapbook and photo album of his life and career.
“She was constantly watching us from afar,” he said. She finds the pictures online and keeps them in a book. It shows she has always cared. She said she didn’t contact her because she assumed we hated her, which was a big worry for her.
“Now I know what a wonderful person she is – we can’t take back the past 46 years, but we’re going to make the most of it now.
“She has a whole family to get to know – grandchildren and great-grandchildren. We will have a lot of fun together.
Audrey said: “I’m really glad he got in touch. I didn’t want to do it myself because I knew all the things he was told. He told me he talked to people who knew us years ago, old friends.
“I know my husband blamed me for my husband’s death. He is their golden boy and no one can be good enough. Some of the things they say are vicious.
“We were too young and after he died I blamed myself. I started drinking, I let the kids take me away.
“I always thought they didn’t want anything to do with me, that they wouldn’t want to talk to me, let me tell them the truth.” She added: “He has done very well in his career. I miss him very much.
“In the fall, he rented a motel in Devon and I came. I had Covid, but we still had a great time. I feel like I missed out a lot. My children grow up, great-grandchildren, great-grandchildren.
“Sometimes I feel depressed but now we have years of catching up to do. That is to be expected.”
https://www.mirror.co.uk/tv/tv-news/tv-star-dog-expert-reunited-26276452 TV star's dog expert reunites with mother who ran away without children 45 years ago