The Hartlepool family photo which made a dream come true

All of the relatives together.
All of the relatives together.

A grateful reader has thanked the Hartlepool Mail after his family history research took another wonderful twist.

For the first time since he began his search, Belgian man Marc de Vulder has met up with all of his new-found Hartlepool relatives. They all got together in one room.

Marc de Vulder.

Marc de Vulder.

He travelled from Europe to meet up with his new-found relatives at a venue in the Hartlepool area.

And Marc paid tribute to the Hartlepool Mail for supporting his quest to find them for nearly a year. We did it through a series of family tree articles which Mail readers responded to.

We appealed to them for help after we first reported the story of Marc’s grandmother Nellie (Nelly) Boyes, who was born in the town. Nellie then moved to live in Belgium after marrying her sweetheart Paul Rasquin who lived there.

The loving couple struggled through the years of the Second World War and had to use guile and a lot of determination to stay alive against all the odds.

We have found each other and from now on we are reunited as a family. I am convinced that all of you have taken a special place in my heart

Marc de Vulder

But after Nellie survived the whole of the conflict, she died aged 49 from flu. She passed away on the same day that the Nazis surrendered unconditionally on May 8, 1945.

Marc, who hails from Merelbeke in the East Flanders area of Belgium, has managed to find out a lot about his Hartlepool background.

He said the helping hand he received from lots of people meant he could realise a dream.

Speaking of his new-found family, he said he was “thrilled to see them for the first time in real and I think they also are, to meet a Flemish Belgian Family-member..... to complete their missing link in the jigsaw.

“Well I have to thank you so much for all you did for me.”

Nellie was born on January 2, 1896 at Durham Street in Throston in Hartlepool. She was christened 27 days later at Holy Trinity Church in Hartlepool.

Her father was a mariner called William Robert Boyes and who died in Australia.

After an appeal in the Hartlepool Mail, more members of the family were reunited and it all led to a get together at Crimdon Dene where the different branches, including those from Belgium, came together.

Marc added: “We have found each other and from now on we are reunited as a family.”

And in a sentence of praise for everyone who supported him in his research, Marc added: “I am convinced that all of you have taken a special place in my heart.”