Church helps Norwich man find lost brother
2009: A Norwich
man has been reunited with his long-lost brother after 50 years apart thanks to the intervention of a local Salvation Army
church and the charity’s Family Tracing Service.
“If it hadn’t been for The Salvation Army, my life would be a lot more sad,” said Tom Brown, a retired kitchen porter from Norwich.
Tom, 78, enlisted the help of the church and charity’s Family Tracing Service which reunited him with his elder brother Ernest, his last surviving relative. The pair had not been in contact with each other for 50 years.
“We were in a boys’ home but we gradually lost touch after Ernest joined the military,” says Tom, a retired hotel porter and the oldest of four children born to a Lowestoft couple. “I tried to find Ernest for a long time but with no luck. I did not know much about my family, dates of birth, etc. We managed to find a little information about my mother but she had already died and there was no information about my dad, Ernest or either of our sisters.”
However the intervention of Eva Frntic-Stedman, a keyworker at Norwich Day Services in Ipswich Road, where Tom spends much of his time, proved decisive. “It was hard for Tom, finding some details about his mother was causing him grief, especially because he knew nothing else about his heritage and had no-one else in his life, apart from a couple of friends and people at this centre. We thought it would be a good idea to contact The Salvation Army.”
Tom wrote to The Family Tracing Service and they managed to locate Ernest, 73, who was living in retirement in London.
“It took them just four months to find my brother,” Tom continues. “They sent me a letter with all his contact details. I was helped by a member of staff here at the centre to make the phone call and arrange to visit him in London. It is a very exciting time and my first meeting with Ernest after so many years seems like a dream. I was speechless, which is very unusual for me! All I could do was just hug him!”
Now back in daily telephone contact with Ernest, Tom is advising anyone who wants to find a long-lost relative to contact The Salvation Army. ”I am surprised that their Family Tracing Service were able to find him and so quickly.”
Eva agrees: “The Salvation Army should be the first port of call for anyone in Tom’s situation. We tried so many places without success. It’s just great to see Tom being so happy having at last found his brother.”
“The reuniting of Tom with his brother is just remarkable,” says Captain David Murray, who leads The Salvation Army’s nearby Norwich Mile Cross church with his wife Major Sarah.
“The Salvation Army’s Family Tracing Service has historically been a major part of our work. It is another example of our honesty, integrity and trust, much of which is on short supply these days. It is so reassuring to be part of an organisation that makes such things happen.”
The Salvation Army’ Family Tracing Service, founded in 1885, is among the world’s oldest tracing agencies. It will only search for blood relatives and the subsidised cost is £45, or £25 for pensioners or those on state benefits. In 2007, the Family Tracing Service concluded almost 3,000 cases.