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Home Sheerness News Article
Tony Southgate, of Whybornes Chase, answered the door to a neighbour earlier this month to be presented with a letter addressed to him which had been sent to the wrong address.
Upon opening it, the 69-year-old discovered is was from a Richard Ralph, inquiring if his birth mother Kathleen Goody was also Mr Southgate’s mother – which she was.
At the age of 72, Mr Ralph had been given his birth certificate and by searching online had found his family tree which included photos of his mother and relatives.
The information he found was uploaded by Mr Southgate himself, who does ancestry as a hobby. He had posted a picture of his mother with an ‘unknown’ man – who turned out to be Mr Ralph’s father.
Mr Ralph was able to track down his half-brother’s address and fortunately, although he was a few houses out, the letter made its way to the rightful recipient.
Their mother had given up Mr Ralph when he was just two years old and he was raised by his father’s parents who emigrated to New Zealand when he was nine.
Grandad-of-six Mr Southgate said: “My initial response when my neighbour brought the letter round was that I don’t know anyone in New Zealand.
“But I knew what it was when I read the first few lines.
“Me and my siblings have known for about 40 years that our mother had a child in the early 1940s but was unable to keep the baby.
“When she was asked about the child she would only say she had named him Richard but didn’t want to talk about it.
“I phoned Richard and said ‘I’m holding a letter in my hands and you are quite correct – you are my half-brother’.”
Retired electrical engineer Mr Southgate said he had tried to track his half-brother down over the years but as he didn’t know his surname he had never been able to get anywhere.
He has already met up with Mr Ralph’s daughter Vicki, who was visiting England from her home in Australia, and he and his wife Lesley hope to travel to New Zealand and meet Mr Ralph and his wife Lynne next year.
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