Scots reunited after 52 years
Davina and Nicky, eat your heart out
16 March 2021
Reunite brothers who have not seen each other in half a century? Is that even possible? Darned right it is and we did it. We are still absolutely delirious here because we recently found a Scottish man in London whose brother, who was on the other side of the world, had not seen him for 52 years. That’s a long time.
To get back into serious tracing of missing family members with the excellent databases that are now available to investigators who can prove they are not dodgy, we had a free offer to new clients. Until the end of January 2021, my business partner David and I would work on missing people cases for 13 weeks for free – absolutely no charge.
People found it hard to believe. They thought it was a scam. Because we weren’t taking money, we offered our services to relatives looking to reunite with people on social media. We asked a Scottish man in Australia looking for his long-lost brother if we could help. He said: “Yes please,” and signed up.
After David and I got our instructions and Authority To Investigate in December 2020, we were upbeat. We told the searching brother, who lives in Western Australia, in an online chat to leave it all to us. We would reunite them. Then … the reality. We had a subject who had a fairly common first name and surname so it was not easy. At that early stage, after searching the databases we subscribe to, we had 121 possibles. That was going to be impossibly-expensive and time-consuming. We were banging our heads.
So we started searching for phone numbers for the names and addresses but each one in turn came up negative. There was no certainty of success even if we found all the phone numbers for the 121 – and, of course, we didn’t. We got downhearted and gave up after calling about 20.
Focusing on Scotland, we spoke to various men with that name in Paisley, Dundee and the Borders particularly. We didn’t have their birth dates before we called so we weren’t sure if they were a fit or not. They wanted to help reunite them when they heard the story, but they couldn’t.
We were absolutely sure we found him at a Lancashire address. There was a digit wrong in the birth date but mistakes do creep in. It wasn’t him.
At that point, we happened to subscribe to a new more-powerful database. Our membership of the Association of British Investigators brought that about. That system helped us get the possibles down to six and one who had no activity through credit transactions or changes of address for many years.
No phone number. It’s too long a shot.
We tried the search on our trusty old database – just in case. It pinged a consumer transaction event from a couple of months before. The birth date seemed correct, he was not shown as deceased, he was credit checked when he bought something recently – so he is still there. What are we waiting for?
We sent a Signed For letter asking him to call our 0800 number. No response. Then we found out that Covid, and the inability of Royal Mail to redirect resources, had crippled the sorting offices in various areas including his local area in London. After three weeks, our letter had still not been delivered. That’s a scandal that is not being reported properly, for some reason.
We ended up emailing the letter to a brilliant courier company in south London, who printed out our letter, put it in an envelope and sent a biker round with it. Then … no response.
A few days later, the phone rang and I heard a man say: “I think you may be looking for me?” It was him. By jove, it was this very polite man whose brother has been looking for him since he didn’t return from university 52 years ago.
“I was trying to look for him and I had no idea he had gone back to Australia. Well, well, well.”
I then asked if I could share the recording of the call with his brother in Australia. “Aye, you may,” he said softly. I admit it, at that point I had tears in my eyes.
When I messaged the Australian brother, I attached the recording of his sibling. That was in was the middle of the night over there so after a few hours, I messaged him again for a bit of reaction. He was too emotional to see the keyboard.
It’s OK. I will wait, I said, reaching for another Kleenex.
He has since told us that, although they are both sensible and taking things slowly, the brothers are now in touch and making plans. That is fantastic.
After Covid, who knows what could happen? We may even get the brothers to do an interview about their new lives with each other again.
Reunite them we did, and reuniting people who have been separated by life events, youthful enthusiasms, mistakes and misunderstandings is absolutely great. It’s the best job in the world.
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