Central Leader : February 2nd 2011
21 CENTRAL LEADER, FEBRUARY 2, 2011 NEWS 67 Ranfurly Rd (between Gillies Ave & Manukau Rd), Epsom, Auckland 1023. email@example.com www.realliving.co.nz EV CLQP0202 Epsom Village is a sunny, north-facing and modern retirement community combining the freedom of independent living with a friendly village atmosphere. Centrally located, it is conveniently close to all the amenities of Mt Eden and Newmarket you know and enjoy. Apartments are open to view this weekend, Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th Feb, 1.30 -- 4pm. Weinviteyoutocomeoverandviewourrangeofbeautifullyappointed one and two bedroom apartments, with optional undercover parking. Or if you prefer, call us to arrange a personal tour. Phone Robyn Morton on 09 630 4379 or 021 845 524 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org OPEN HOME SATURDAY & SUNDAY 1.30 PM - 4 PM, 5TH & 6TH FEBRUARY A retirement lifestyle that is personal, quiet & very central. Magic moments in search for family A long road: Tony Sullivan was an only child until he was in his 60s. He discovered he had a half-brother and half- sister when he finally tracked down his biological mother. Photos: FIONA GOODALL Sorting through the past: Genealogist Jan Gow has helped numerous people reconnect with lost relatives and discover things about their family's history. You never know what you will find once you start to piece together the fragments of your family's history. Reporter Michelle Cooke uncovers tales of discoveries, reunions and magical moments from people who have delved into their family's past. There are three large photo albums at Tony Sullivan's home, full of pictures of his mother, sister, brother and cousins -- people who he only met six years ago, at the age of 65. When Mr Sullivan first called his half- brother from his St Heliers home in 2001 he was met with suspicion. He was staggered. He thought I was either a conman or someone from the IRD.'' His biological mother Charlotte had never told her son or daughter about her past. So when his sister asked her mum: Did you have a son before us?'', she quietly replied Yes'.'' It took another three years before the mother and son were finally reunited. Charlotte was 91 and Tony was 65. Mr Sullivan has always known he was adopted. A couple who couldn't have children of their own made him part of their family. The fam- ily moved from Britain to New Zealand when he was 16. He only thought of searching for his biologi- cal family when his adoptive parents died in the late 70s and early 80s. It's a curious thing -- the situation you grow up in seems quite nor- mal,'' he says. So having adoptive parents was normal. Finding my biological mother was quite abnor- mal.'' It was 15 years until he finally found her. He started with just a couple of clues. His adoptive parents had documents which told him his father was in the motor trade indus- try and a letter sent via the adoption society from his mother, which was signed Charlotte. His mother's name was listed on his birth certificate -- but his father's was stated as unknown''. Mr Sullivan eventu- ally got in touch with one of New Zealand's leading genealogists, Jan Gow, and taking her advice, hunted through hun- dreds of marriage certificates from the UK in search of the name Charlotte. He finally found it. It listed her husband as working in the motor trade industry. He later found out Charlotte had tried to get him back a few months after he was adopted. When Mr Sullivan was born in 1939, the only people who knew about him were the doctors, his mother and grand- mother. Charlotte had hidden her pregnancy from her seven siblings and her strict father for fear of being shunned for having a baby out of wedlock. Mr Sullivan says he may never have found her if she hadn't married and if his father's last name wasn't unique. He looked in the white pages for anyone with the same last name and found one person. After being put in touch with numerous other family members in the UK, Mr Sullivan was finally on the right track. From 1984 to 2001 I got nowhere. Then sud- denly in four days the whole thing fell into place.'' Mr Sullivan's father had returned from World War Two shell-shocked and died in 1975. His mother Charlotte had remarried, had two chil- dren and was living in Peterborough, in east England. It was pretty scary to speak to someone and say: Hello I'm Tony, your son from New Zea- land', and not knowing the response I may get,'' he says. The response was hesi- tation. Charlotte wanted to leave the past in the past. She was trauma- tised by giving up her baby, the war and how it affected her first hus- band. He took some photos that his half-sister had given to him and Char- lotte helped him identify people. Mr Sullivan has met with Charlotte once since and talks to her over the phone. He's also regu- larly in touch with his cousins and siblings. The old photos that she helped identify -- along with newer ones taken on his two trips -- are now neatly tucked inside the family photo albums, which have swelled as a result. Bringing people together and reconnect- ing them to the past is all in a day's work for Mrs Gow. She gave up a career in accounting and bank work when she dis- covered genealogy 30 years ago. The Glendowie resi- dent has helped people trace their parents, ancestors and create family trees. But her favourite encounters are those special, random moments she describes as serendipity''. Mrs Gow was in Syd- ney she picked up a newspaper and saw the name of her third cousin and her contact details. It was a missing piece of the puzzle she had been after for some time. She immediately picked up the phone and dialled the number. One of the most incredible stories Mrs Gow has heard of is from a lady, also named Jan. Jan was writing a book about her family's gen- ealogy and had tracked down every family mem- ber except for one second cousin. This cousin had moved to England where she had lived most of her life. When she returned to New Zealand she got a job at the post office sorting mail. She noticed one of the letters that had jammed the sorting machine was addressed to her. Jan's second cousin was intrigued and jotted down the sender's name and address. She called Jan and asked if she was con- nected with her family, because she had been estranged from her father's family for years and was keen to re- connect. The long-lost cousins were reunited and Jan now had that one miss- ing piece to the puzzle. It turned out Jan had sent the letter to a niece, with almost the same name as her second cousin. That letter had been jammed in the machine for two years. Mrs Gow encourages everyone to delve into their family's past and says it is so easy now there are free online programmes. Type in the things you know and you'll soon be surprised,'' she says. One small discovery she made was that one of her husband's ancestors married a 21-year-old man and listed her own age as 35. But we knew she was 43. So she must have been quite a lady,'' she says. All the things you find -- it brings them to life.'' Go to www.family search.org to check out your own family history.
January 28th 2011
February 4th 2010