A man who achieved his late father’s ‘life’s goal’ of finding his long lost family discovered his cousin unknowingly nursed his father in hospital and lived just down the road.
Ian Harrison, 66, a business coach born in Portsmouth and now living in Alberta, Canada, wishes that his dad, Peter, was still alive to meet the long lost family he spent 50 years searching for.
Peter has been told that his father died during the Second World War, but at age 15, he found out that he was alive, but his mother had lied up to him to cover up her affair with a married man.
Peter spent years searching for his family with the help of his son Ian, who continued the quest after his father died in 2003, and after doing an Ancestry DNA test in 2021 he found a cousin.
Ian is still in touch with his new relatives, and he says he ‘could not have wished for a nicer family’, but he cannot help but get upset to think his dad did not have the same pleasure.
Ian Harrison, 66, a business coach born in Portsmouth and now living in Alberta, Canada, wishes that his dad, Peter, was still alive to meet the long lost family he spent 50 years searching for. Pictured: Ian (right) with his cousins Les (left), Lynda (back left) and Glynis (back right)
Ian’s dad, Peter (pictured), was told his dad, Percy, passed away in the second world war but was in fact alive
Ian discovered that Lynda (left) nursed his father in hospital when he was dying from cancer, without knowing she was his niece
Ian thinks, after meeting his dad’s two brothers, they ‘would have been best friends’ and thinks it’s ‘heart-breaking’ all three never got to meet.
‘I just wish my dad was still here to meet these wonderful people – I still can’t believe they were all so close for all this time,’ Ian said.
Recalling how his father first found out the truth about his father, Ian explained: ‘His mum asked him to get something from her bedroom, and he came across his birth certificate, which did not show a father’s name on it.
‘But he found a document which showed an agreement to pay two shillings and sixpence a week as child support.
Ian says his cousin Les (left) could be his dad’s twin because they look so alike and have the same mannerisms
Ian (pictured) was devastated when his dad’s search for his family was cut short after he passed away of brain cancer and a stroke
Ian met several of his cousins for the first time in 2021 and says they got on ‘like a house on fire’. PIctured: Ian with his cousin Glynis
‘He was awfully upset by the whole thing.’
Ian explained why Percy’s identity was kept a secret, saying: ‘My dad was the product of an affair between a married man and my grandmother.’
When this was revealed to Ian’s dad, he was set on finding Percy and discovering as much as he could about his dad’s side of the family.
Peter spent decades searching and not finding anything, but when Ian was told about the mystery surrounding Percy, he also became determined to find out more.
Ian and his dad bought volumes of CDs of the census, and found out through this that Peter’s dad, Percy, had passed away.
Sadly their search was cut short after Ian’s father passed away in January 2003 in St Christopher’s hospital aged 67, having had a stroke and brain cancer.
But Ian continued the search, and after doing an Ancestry DNA test in 2021 he found a cousin.
After emailing back and forth for several months, to Ian’s shock, it turned out that his cousin, Peter’s niece, was a deputy ward sister in the same hospital Ian’s dad was in, and she nursed him in his last days.
He said: ‘Dad died being nursed by one of the very people he had been looking for all his life.
‘Lynda knew of my dad and likewise didn’t know that the person she was nursing was in fact, her long lost uncle. It was just truly unbelievable.’
Eventually, in May 2022, Ian, his wife Christine, 69, and his mum met at a pub with Ian’s cousins.
Ian said: ‘We got on like a house on fire, and it was honestly the most amazing experience.
‘I was so anxious, to begin with.
‘My mum wept because my cousin reminded her so much of my dad at that age – they genuinely looked like they were twins, and had the same mannerisms.
‘My uncle and my dad were both even royal electrical mechanical engineers.’
After meeting, Ian discovered that Lynda lived on the street round the corner from his mum.
He said, ‘They would have probably walked by each other when shopping. It’s just crazy.’
Since then, they have kept in touch, with Ian explaining: ‘They have been the most amazing family to me. I could not honestly have wished to meet a nicer family.
‘And they’ve been so welcoming.
‘We’ve been exchanging stories and all sorts of stuff.’
Ian explained how it felt to finally make his dad’s dream of finding his family a reality, saying: ‘It has brought a completeness – closure, fulfilment to my life.
‘We now know our origins. We have a greater connection to our extended family.’
Despite the revelation, Ian could not help but feel sad that his dad never got to meet his family, or find out that Lynda was a relative.
He said: ‘Every time we meet, or we’re just chit-chatting about stuff, we always say it’s so sad that the three brothers never met each other.
‘I mean, I’m sure that they would have been best friends. listening to the stories I’ve heard about Uncle Jack and Uncle Donald. It’s heart-breaking, really.’
Ian would recommend Ancestry to anyone, saying: ‘Without this, I never would have been able to find my dad’s family and achieve his life’s goal.’