Delight as relatives meet after 50 years

Left to right, Elaine Stainthorpe, Norma Brown and Lilian Jeffery look over a selection of photos
Left to right, Elaine Stainthorpe, Norma Brown and Lilian Jeffery look over a selection of photos

IMAGINE the excitement of meeting a relative you have not seen since the 1960s.

That was the scenario for Norma Brown and Lilian Jeffery, two keen family tree researchers and Hartlepool Mail readers.

And when we recently reported how Lilian was trying to trace photographs of her ancestors, it was Norma who got in touch to say she could help.

Lilian had never before seen a photograph of her grandmother Lillian Muller.

But she showed us a photograph around two weeks ago of what she hoped was a family scene, found quite by coincidence in a book at Hartlepool Reference Library.

All she had to go on was that a woman in the 1931 picture looked like her mother – and she hoped it was her grandmother.

That’s where Norma came in. But not only could she help, she was related to the woman she was helping.

The grateful women, who live only a couple of miles from each other, set up a reunion and invited the Hartlepool Mail along to share the occasion.

As they sat down to a natter over a cuppa, with Norma’s sister Elaine Stainthorpe there as well, it soon became clear they all had an absolute mountain of personal memories.

Mum-of-four Norma, 62, from the Stockton Road area of town, told us: “I couldn’t believe it when I saw Lilian’s face in the Mail.

“I thought to myself ‘I know that lady from somewhere’ and then I remembered that she used to come to my mam’s house when we were both little.

“Now that I have met her, she hasn’t changed a bit.”

Lilian, 54, admitted: “It was so exciting to think that someone might have photographs and that they were in the family.”

And so to the details of their family link.

Lilian explained: “My grandmother married Norma’s grandmother’s brother Francis.”

And what about that all-important photograph which we first featured two weeks ago in Family Roots? Does it show Lilian’s grandmother Lillian Muller?

Lilian, while not 100 per cent sure, is now more confident that the woman second from right in the back row is her grandmother – and even better, the younger girl next to her is her mother, called Lillian Muller.

Also in the photograph is Norma’s grandmother – called Lily Muller – who married her grandfather George Henry Fletcher.

Norma’s own research shows that she can trace her maternal roots back to the 1600s and to family in Ireland.

But on her paternal side, her studies have only taken her back a couple of generations.

Now there’s an extra pair of hands to help with research and the two women have no intention of losing contact.

And Norma, a retired volunteer administrator with a Hartlepool counselling service, said: “There are other members of my family as well including my youngest daughter and my eldest brother who have been researching and they are hoping to come up with some more results.

It’s a case of watch this space for even more good news.