The Belgian man who found a whole section of his family in Hartlepool - with the Mail’s help

Marc de Vulder.
Marc de Vulder.

A researcher – who uncovered his Hartlepool links thanks to the help of the Mail – has told his story in a book.

Belgian man Marc de Vulder unearthed a whole section of his family in Hartlepool after running an appeal for help in our paper.

The cover of Marc de Vulder's new book.

The cover of Marc de Vulder's new book.

He first established links with us in 2016 and, after a quest lasting more than a year, finally travelled to the North East to meet the relatives he never previously knew he had.

Marc told us: “I will visit Hartlepool in May again. I will give a copy to my new and dear family members in Hartlepool and Stockton.”

The new book is titled The Merelbeke Discoveries – The Search for My Roots. We first reported the story of Marc’s grandmother Nellie (Nelly) Boyes, who was born in Hartlepool.

Nellie moved to 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 determination to stay alive against all the odds.

After a lot of research work and with the help of the Hartlepool Mail and a lot of other authorities, I could trace family members still alive in Hartlepool and County Durham

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.

But he believes that the helping hand he received from lots of people meant he could realise a dream.

Nellie was born on January 2, 1896, at Durham Street in Throston, 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, finally came together.

Marc has included a brief tribute to the Hartlepool Mail in his new publication.

He said: “After a lot of research work and with the help of the Hartlepool Mail and a lot of other authorities, I could trace family members still alive in Hartlepool and County Durham, and in Oxford/Cambridge.”

There’s a mention too for his new-found relatives and Marc said: “I bear them all in my heart and in the meantime we have built up a close bond between our families.”

Marc describes how his Hartlepool breakthrough first began on May 5, 2016. It is the very date when his research showed Nellie Boyes was from Hartlepool.

Marc even remembers that, at 10am that day, he entered Nellie’s name into an internet search and the story of discovery began. It was after that, with the help of authorities including the Hartlepool Mail, that a remarkable story came together.

If you would like to highlight your own family tree research, email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk.