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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 February 2005, 12:25 GMT
'Don't forget the grandparents'
Former Glasgow taxi driver James Deuchars and his wife Margaret went to court to win access to their two young granddaughters.

Their experiences prompted them to get involved with Grandparents Apart - a self-help group based in Scotland.

Here, 60-year-old Mr Deuchars tells BBC Scotland's news website what he and his wife went through to maintain contact with their grandchildren.

Our story begins when we lost our daughter to breast cancer in 1993.

She was heavily pregnant with our second granddaughter, who was delivered by caesarean section two weeks before Susan died.

We were all in shock when our beloved daughter Susan died two weeks after the birth.

But we knew we had to carry on because two little girls were without their mother - the eldest was just two, and her newborn sister began life in the special baby care unit.

We went onto autopilot. When the baby was well enough she came home to us.

With our son-in-law's blessing we took on the caring role - we looked after the girls, the eldest during the day, and the youngest was with us full time.

They were like our own daughters. The youngest never knew her mum, so granny was very dear to her.

For three years it was a happy set-up, but we knew it would not always be that way.

When in hospital Susan asked me to encourage her husband to restart his life if anything should happen to her.

'Fresh start'

That promise was made and kept. My son-in-law was a young man and it was important that he found someone else to share his life.

He did meet someone and they settled down together and created a family home for our two granddaughters.

But that is when our problems began. My son-in-law and his new wife wanted to make a fresh start and there was no place for us in that fresh start.

When we encountered our problem we couldn't find anywhere in Scotland to help us.

Our situation became more acute when they moved to Liverpool. We were desperate, we went from having our grandchildren virtually full-time to nothing.

We will never erase from our minds the heartache we suffered when we thought we would never see our grandchildren again
We decided to go to court and things came to a head at a mediation session in Liverpool. We talked and talked for a long time and we came to an arrangement whereby we could see the girls.

In our case there was a happy outcome and the children, now aged 13 and 11, stay with us during the school holidays.

However, we will never erase from our minds the heartache we suffered when we thought we would never see our grandchildren again.

Our experiences have motivated us to continue helping others. Grandparents are on the whole not pushing for full custody or unreasonable access, they simply want contact with their flesh and blood.

I believe much still has to be done in these situations before all parties find themselves in court. I also believe that if amicable agreements cannot be reached then mediation should be made mandatory.

We will continue the fight to be heard and we won't stop until we have our rights enshrined in law.

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