“You found my last living relative!”

Old man using telephoneAs part of a nostalgia season we’re having in the bureau this month, I thought I’d revisit some of my more meaningful blog posts. I hope you enjoy them:

Earlier this year a new client approached us to do some research for his wife, Jenny, as a gift. Before she was born, Jenny’s natural father, Michael, had been killed in a car accident and her mother had never spoken about either the tragedy or her late husband. Jenny was desperate to find out anything she could about her father from certificates and documents or perhaps from someone who knew him.

Our work began by ordering in as many certificates as we could, to give Jenny some information about Michael’s life. However, as it was fairly recent history there was not much detail and we felt it was not enough. So we set about tracing Michael’s family to see if he had had any siblings or cousins who might remember him. Tracing families forward to find living relatives is a tricky business as we become so reliant on certificates which need to be ordered in, and it can be a slow and painstaking job. There were no certificates relating to Michael’s only brother and we very quickly lost the trail of his cousins on his father’s side of the family. However, on his mother’s side, we were able to find one solitary name, a cousin of Michael’s, 78 year old Sidney, who appeared from the electoral rolls to be living in Norfolk. We wrote him a letter.

Yesterday we received a phone call from Sidney who quickly confirmed his connection to Jenny and was pleased to say that he had known her father, Michael, right up until his death. What was more, Sidney told us that only two weeks before, he had been talking to his wife about how alone he felt in this world, having had no children of his own and no other living relatives that he knew of. His wife reminded him that Michael’s child was still “out there somewhere,” although they had no idea where.

When our letter dropped onto the mat yesterday morning, Sidney was taken aback at the co-incidence, which he put down to a gift from God. After a long and gleeful conversation with Sidney he asked us to pass on his details to Jenny and encourage her to get in touch, which we did later that same evening via an emotional phone call. Jenny was lost for words and clearly couldn’t wait to phone Sidney herself. For her, we gave a long-hoped-for chance to hear all about her Dad and for Sidney we put him in touch with his last living relative. Needless to say there were a few tears of joy shed in our office too – poignant stories like this one give us such satisfaction in our work!

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