A Hartlepool man has described how he felt he had ‘gone back in time’ after stumbling across a letter to Santa from his little brother, who died 48 years ago.
Paul Trench’s letter from 1966 was written not long before he died, aged nine, in February 1967.
His family did not know of its existence until it was found almost 50 years later by his brother Ray, 65, from Greatham.
It was tucked away in a children’s encyclopaedia, and detailed Paul’s wishes for Christmas, which included a Subbuteo game and some “toys and buses”.
The discovery of the letter took Mr Trench, who was 16 at the time of his brother’s death, by complete surprise, and also brought the memories flooding back.
The retired deputy headteacher, of Front Street, said: “As I was flicking through the book, I came across two little Santa lists from Paul, including the complete one with all of his wishes.
Suddenly to find this 48 years later was like going back in time. It still makes me very emotionalRay Trench
“It came as a complete shock to me.
“I thought we had everything that he had left behind, including photographs and toys. Suddenly to find this 48 years later was like going back in time. It still makes me very emotional.
“Anyone who has lost someone like a sibling, especially if it’s a child, will never lose that feeling.
“It’s something that just stays with you. It’s always there, just one thought away from your consciousness, and this certainly did bring it all back.”
Paul’s death shocked the Trench family, and came just a week after he was passed fit by a school medical.
A viral infection of the blood claimed his life, leaving his family, including parents Ivor and Peggy, devastated.
Mr Trench added: “We certainly didn’t expect the illness to be so serious.
“It was the first time I had experienced death in the family, or certainly of a close relative.
“The memories came flooding back when I saw the letter, which was in a children’s encyclopedia which hadn’t been opened for years.
“My brother Roydon, who lives in London, asked if I wanted it for my son Nathan, who is 11, and I couldn’t believe it when I came across the lists.
“If there is a sadness to it, it is that it was there for so long and my mum and dad didn’t know of its existence.”