The One Show

The One Show - 29 March 2018

I knew it was approaching the anniversary of the Babylift.  Since I’ve been searching for answers I’ve been very conscious of this time of the year.  This year was no different.

Until now…

Out of the blue I receive an email from The One Show.  I must admit, to begin with I thought it was a bit of a hoax.

He explains his name is Glen and he’s a researcher for The One Show.  He explains he’s covering a story on a man called Vance from Northern Ireland in his search and the fact that he is in Vietnam currently, having found his birth mother through a DNA test.  He was a baby on Operation Babylift in 1975 and all of a sudden it starts to fall into place.

I met Vance just two years ago when he did his own documentary and I even introduced Vance to Brian Freemantle, the instigator of Operation Babylift, all those years ago, when he was the Foreign Editor of The Daily Mail in 1975.

So I call him back and this Glen is a right laugh!  I found him really easy to talk to and really enjoyed our conversations, telling him all about my past and what I know (and more importantly, what I don’t), and he’s so interested – bless him, I know he needs to pay attention but I can wax lyrical about my story, my sure his eyes glazed over at some point, but being so easy to talk to I’m sure this has secured my place on the show.

So, before I know it, I am firming up details of appearing on The One Show and now they want Brian to be on the show as well since I have told them I will be bringing him as my guest.

That evening, Wednesday 28 March 2018, I will never forget.  I am being interviewed next to Brian Freemantle by The One Show’s Matt Baker and Alex Jones right next to Dakota Fanning and Luke Evans (Miss Saigon) talking about my former life – such a surreal experience.  Other guests on the show included Mariella Fostrop & Rev Richard Coles and George Ezra singing his new song, ‘Paradise’.


Sussex Press Agency Debuts On BBC Inside Out

An Eastbourne woman’s journey to find out her past in Vietnam is the story behind a BBC Inside Out which was featured on BBC1 Monday 9 November 2009.

Co-Produced by Paul Gibson from the Sussex Press Agency, the piece which was screened by BBC1’s Inside Out South-East is part of a longer documentary which highlights Viktoria Cowley’s journey to find out her background, after being adopted from Vietnam during the fall of Saigon in 1975.

Above: Polly Evans and Rob Smith from BBC South-East Today talk to Viktoria Cowley Live on the programme.

Viktoria was one of the 99 babies airlifted to the UK during Operation Babylift which was organised by the Daily Mail. 34 years later, Vikki has set out to discover her past and meet as many of the other adoptees who were on the same flight as possible. BBC Inside Out will feature Viktoria discovering a photograph of herself on the front page of the Daily Mail in 1975, and travel to London to meet a group of other Vietnamese Orphans.

April 2010 marks the 35th Anniversary of the airlift, and thousands of people will travel to the country to re-unite and mark this special anniversay. 2,500 babies were airlifted from the country during the Vietnam war, but only a handful came to the UK.

BBC Inside Out will also be producing a 30 minute special programme inconjunction with the Sussex Press Agency early next year as the crew travel to Vietnam with Viktoria.

Over a two day period, Viktoria Cowley completed fifteen radio interviews and one live television news discussion programme. These were as follows:

BBC Radio Kent, BBC Radio Sussex, Sovereign Radio, South-East Today, BBC World Service, BBC 5 Live, BBC Wiltshire, BBC Radio Derby, BBC Radio Berkshire, BBC Radio Scotland, BBC World Today Programme, BBC Five Live, BBC World Service. Other Coverage included; Eastbourne Herald, Hastings Observer, Bexhill Observer, BBC Magazine.

The programme is also expected to be screened on BBC World Asia in the near future.

Read more about Viktoria’s story

You can also listen to two of the interviews for a further 6 days:
BBC Radio Sussex: Monday 9 November 2009 – The Breakfast Show – click through to 2hrs 12 mins.
BBC Five Live: Tuesday 10 November 2009 – The Breakfast Show with Nicky Campbell – click through to 2hrs 39 mins.

Read more about the Sussex Press Agency.

Live Transmission of Documentary Feature

We’ve had news that we need to do some PR events which sound REALLY exciting and will update as soon as I have further news. But for now, pop this date in your diaries:

Monday 9 November (a month today) BBC1 – Inside Out – 19:30 GMT

Sadly, Inside Out is regional but you can view on BBC iPlayer …for up to 7 days after transmission (BBC iPlayer won’t work outside the UK – sorry!)

Watch the trailer here:

Another Sister from Another Mister

I saw a girl on a documentary some ten-odd years ago. She went back to Vietnam to try and discover some facts about her orphanage and adoption. Sadly, she didn’t get all her questions answered.

It was this very documentary, Children of the Ashes, that pricked my curiosity enough to watch it, and it was after having seen this documentary, that convinced me enough not to take that route myself.

I decided to keep myself in my closet.

And there I stayed…

… however, when saw this documentary, I wanted to wrap my arms around her. She had captured my heart.

So when I had made contact with her earlier in the year, it seemed only natural that I should feel a natural warmth toward her, an understanding that only another adoptee would feel.

I had the chance to meet with her a few weeks ago.

I travelled to Northampton to meet her. But what was so special about this visit? Firstly, being one of the girls from the documentary, meeting Safi was like meeting a TV personality, I felt like I already knew her; and secondly, unlike any other meet, it was in her home. It was real, I took a glimpse at Safi, met her husband, her children, her dog. For an instance, I was involved in her life, stepped in her house and it became so real.

It was the best weekend ever. Emotional? Yes. Exhausting? Yes. Fantastic? Yes!

Visiting the park, dining at a Vietnamese restaurant, making Vietnamese Spring Rolls, watching documentaries….

I’m not the emotional type. Not one to let my guard slip, but for once in my life, this was so different. I knew it would be. It’s so difficult to put into words, one of those “you had to be there” scenarios. For all the reasons I detailed above, Safi being the first adoptee I saw on the documentary, and actually sharing a bit of her life in her house with her family, made this meeting so real. It wasn’t just adoptee to adoptee, it was heart to heart, mind to mind, I would swear we were sisters!

Viktoria & Safi

The first time I had to reach for a tissue was during the viewing of Safi’s documentary. This is the first time I had seen it in years (although I remember it well). It was the first time Safi had seen it with another adoptee.

The second tissue-reaching moment was when I said goodbye. I felt I’d found a friend, a true friend. A long-lost friend. I knew I wasn’t saying goodbye, I was merely saying “so long”, but I still hugged her and didn’t want to let her go.

Safi is a beautiful person, with the world of love in her heart and I’m so pleased I met with her and I’m so much richer for having done so.

The possibilities are endless!

After liaising with my brother, who very kindly bought me a ticket to LA last year, but I didn’t go as planned back then, and as it’s transferable, so I’m hoping that this will take me as far as Bangkok, with only a ticket from there to afford.

So it looks as though a trip to Vietnam is very possible at the end of October this year.

It’s become glaringly obvious that I need to get to Vietnam this year before the Reunion, as I seem to be the only person who’s not yet been back and I have many avenues to explore before meeting others. Not only this, the events that are scheduled for April next year means that my own personal discoveries have a limited capability, and so I want to be able to immerse myself in the Reunion knowing I’ve done everything I can without wanting to do my own thing.

So we need Visas now and all the other things that make it possible to go and be comfortable and I need advice and interpreters and accommodation and – oh, so much to think about!

But, the dream that sparked off at the beginning of the year could well be coming to fruitition … I’m going to Vietnam, I’m going home!!

Will there be anybody else going to Vietnam at the end of October? Would love to meet you! x

Mini Reunion – London Town

Peter, Kim, Gemma, Le Thanh & Viktoria

It was hoped that we could get something arranged so some filming could be done for the documentary, as this was the biggest meet up that I had been involved in was taking place so far, it was quite important that plans were firmed up so it could be captured on camera. Unfortunately because we had people coming from different areas, having people meet up together was tricky. It was hoped that we could meet at the O2 as this was a prominent landmark.

It became clear that this wasn’t going to happen since the day before it became apparent that the District Line and DLR tube lines were out of service due to weekend maintenance which put paid to that plan. Also, permissions would have be changed and applied for and time was far too short to be able to cater for this. Sadly, this meant that the cameras had to stay in situ on the living room floor!

Kim, Viktoria & Gemma

The weather couldn’t have been better if it had been pre-booked. Some of us had previously met before, and a couple of us had met for the first time.

I met Le Thanh outside Victoria Station and the meets were staggered from then on with people arriving at different times at Moon Under Water pub in Leicester Square. On reflection, this worked extremely well so I was able to meet with each person personally and in good time and have a good chat with them without being overwhelmed by the whole situation.

The Reunion was a lovely occasion, and thoroughly enjoyed by all, polished off quite nicely by a meal at the Viet Noodle Bar on Greek Street in Piccadilly. It was quite strange because although we were practically strangers, the fact that we share this unusual and unique fact that start our lives off, this is the only bonding fact that we needed to ensure that a conversation ensued and the bond is something I’ve never really experienced before. Having a common connection that many of us don’t remember is enough to form a lifelong friendship, I still have difficult fully explaining this but totally understand it.

Viktoria, Gemma & Le Thanh

It was mentioned that all of us adoptees or Asians have “Foot-in-Mouth syndrome” and perhaps there should be a study on it. There were even a few adoptees who agreed there was a likeness between them and this fact cannot be ignored – because we all went in our own directions after that airlift and without proper documentation, this is a very real fact, that through these reunions (and upcoming plans to have DNA tests recorded) a sibling could well be discovered.

It’s amazing how the food seemed to bond us together; the aroma & textures appeared to weave its magic smells on us, except the smell of the fish sauce was not to my liking, plus it appeared that the fish sauce wanted to bond with my hair!! To others, the smell of fish sauce reminds them of the Mekong Delta.

So now we’re all looking forward to more reunions in the coming months and of course the big reunion in Vietnam April 2010.