Shayne Ward has a secret sister who lives in Winsford, mirroring his Coronation Street character’s family heartache.
In an exclusive interview with the Chronicle’s sister title the Sunday People, Donna Graham has revealed her hope to one day form a bond with Shayne – who scooped Best Newcomer at last night’s National Television Awards.
Donna, 40, was raised by foster parents and only discovered she was the former X Factor winner’s half-sister when she tracked down her mother, Angela Thornhill.
She then found out she shared the same father as the TV star, who shot to fame after winning the ITV talent show in 2005.
Their dad is Martin Ward, who had a relationship with Angela before getting together with Shayne’s mum Philomena.
The Corrie star is one of seven kids – all Donna’s half-brothers and sisters.
She said: “I would like to build a relationship with them all. They all know who I am, but sometimes I feel like I’m their dirty little secret.”
Donna said she found out the truth more than a decade ago but still has no contact with Shayne or the rest of the family.
In Corrie, Shayne’s character Aidan, who first appeared last August, recently discovered that knicker factory boss Carla, played by Alison King, 42, is his secret sister.
Corrie fan Donna, who is mum to a 12-year-old son, said the storyline had dragged everything back about her missing family.
Wants to be given a chance
“I would like to be in touch with them, the whole family, not just Shayne,” she said.
“I’d like to be given a chance.
“I’ve got a lot of half-brothers and sisters out there, whereas here it’s just me and my son.
“I was fostered when I was 18 months old. I’m the eldest, I was born before Martin got with Philomena. I didn’t have a chance for them all to get to know me.
“I think some of them aren’t happy at the idea that Martin had another kid, that he was somehow unfaithful to their mum.
“But I was born before all of them. I didn’t ask for him to be my dad.”
Donna claims she was accused of trying to jump on the bandwagon when Shayne first appeared on the X Factor a decade ago.
But she said: “I don’t care about that, I knew we all had the same dad well before the X Factor. I don’t care about the X Factor or Corrie or the fame.
“It’s because they’re my half-brothers and sisters and it would be nice to have some sort of relationship.
“Deep down I realise it’s very unlikely to happen, but seeing all of this on Corrie, about his secret sister, it’s just brought it all back up for me.”
Donna met Shayne once and even sang with him but that was before she knew he was her brother.
She explained: “It was after I’d tracked down my mum Angela through my birth certificate. We were out in Manchester and we went in a pub one afternoon.
“I got up and sang a song on the karaoke with this lad.
“As I was leaving the pub a lady who was dripping in gold just said, ‘that’s your brother’.
“I dismissed it at the time but a few days later I confronted Angela about it. That’s when I realised the woman was Philomena and the lad was Shayne.
“That was the only time I’ve ever met him. It was well before X Factor.
“When he actually appeared on the show I didn’t recognise him.
“I was watching it think he was good-looking, then I got a call from Angela saying, ‘that’s your half-brother.’”
Donna also tracked down dad Martin to a pub in Liverpool four years ago.
She said: “We had a day out there. Every bar we went in I asked, ‘do you know Martin Ward?’
“It was a long shot but we went in one last bar, Smokey Mo’s near the train station on the way home, and when I asked the barmaid she said, ‘he’s stood behind you’.
“There was a smartly dressed man there in a long coat and shirt and tie. I just walked up to him and said, ‘hi, I’m your daughter Donna’.
“He was taken aback, he turned white, but then he bought a bottle of champagne for us.
“He sat chatting for a while. Then he said he was just going to the toilet and boom, he was gone.”
Martin was jailed for eight years in 2005 for raping an elderly woman and Shayne vowed to have nothing to do with him.
But Donna would love to have a relationship with Shayne and his siblings.
The 'secret sister'
She said: “I’m the secret sister. They all know who I am but they’ve made no effort. But whatever, I’m still happy for him and proud of all Shayne’s achieved.”
A spokeswoman for Coronation Street declined to comment, but a source said: “It’s a complete coincidence that Aidan’s storyline in any way mirrors Shayne’s real life.
“Producers were not aware of Donna and it was not something discussed.”