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Families can be driven apart for all manner of reasons.
My mum went away and didn't come back.
And when you do lose touch with your loved ones...
I never saw Kathleen again.
..finding them can take a lifetime...
I wonder where he is. I wonder what he's doing.
You don't really know where to begin.
..especially when they could be anywhere, at home or abroad.
And that's where the family finders come in.
Hi, it's the Salvation Army Family Tracing Service.
From international organisations...
There's never been a day when we have never had new enquiries.
..to genealogy detective agencies...
When is it you last had contact with him?
..and dedicated one-man bands.
I like to do the searches half the people can't get
because it makes me feel good.
They hunt through history to bring families back together again.
You are my biological dad.
In this series, we follow the work of the family finders...
This case came from our Australian colleagues.
..learning the tricks they use to track
missing relatives through time.
I'm 68 years of age, she is 75 years of age,
and we're just starting off.
And meeting the people whose lives they change along the way.
I said, "Well, this is your younger sister."
It's a miracle.
I was struck speechless and I couldn't stop crying.
It's a proud moment for Dad.
It was the start of finding my family.
Family break-ups can occur all too easily
for any number of reasons and, once it's happened,
putting the pieces back together can feel like an insurmountable task.
But these days, tracking down
a lost family member is easier than ever,
thanks to the ever-increasing number of family finding companies
who go that extra mile to make, what seems impossible possible.
You can be dealing with people in emotional situations,
especially if you're finding living family members.
But it's really about gathering evidence and investigation,
and putting evidence together and assessing it.
These committed detectives work hard to reunite people,
often with the odds stacked against them.
You don't often think of the impact that what you're doing will
have such an effect on somebody, until you get that phone call
and you can hear it in their voice that they're
so excited to be in contact with that person.
Fraser Kinnie runs a family finding agency in Hartlepool
with the help of his wife Tracey.
Quite often, when people are doing searches, they kind of...
They think they want to do the search,
but they haven't got the resources or the ability to conduct the search.
Fraser uses his expertise to run an online service that helps
put together missing pieces of family puzzles
others have struggled to solve.
I like to do the searches other people can't get
because it makes me feel good.
One of their toughest cases was helping Sandy Smith,
who lives in North Walsham, in Norfolk.
With the name Smith, it was going to be hard for a lot of people
and I think, really... I knew it was going to be hard search,
but I knew that if anybody could do it we could do it.
I was born in 1970.
My mum was called Jessie.
I lived in a place called Billingham, a nice little town.
It was a three-bedroom house, it was lovely.
The neighbours were all nice and we had, like,
a bit of grass out the front where we could play
when we were little kids.
It was lovely.
Yeah, I've been... I'd say brought up well.
When she was ten years old,
Sandy came across a piece of paper with her name on it.
I was wanting some colouring paper and my mum said, "Go in the cupboard."
And I found some paperwork.
I had a look because I knew it said Sandra Smith.
So I was like, "Oh, hang on, what's this?"
So I asked my mum, I said, "Who is Sandra Smith?"
And she said, "Oh, well, I wondered
"when the time was to tell you.
"So, you've got another mother,
"who had to give you up because she couldn't look after you
"at the time because there were too many in the family.
"We got you when you were six weeks old
"and I've brought you up."
Because, obviously, they couldn't have kids themselves,
so they adopted me.
The news that she was adopted came as a huge shock.
But who exactly was her birth mother?
My mum told me she was called Janet.
She was 18 when she had me
and she was still living with her parents,
so she couldn't look after
me because there was still a baby in the family already.
She was from a family of 13 and I thought, "Whoa."
It was quite shocking how big the family was.
So, in a way, I understood why she got me adopted.
When my mum was pregnant, her mum was at the same time,
so that's why it was hard for her.
Sandy had some basic information about her birth mother,
but it raised as many questions as answers.
I always wondered, "Well, do I look like my mum?
"Do I talk like my mum?
"Do I do the same things?
"How do I find her? How do I meet her?"
Because, obviously, I've got a mum that brought me up and I'm thinking,
"Well, will I hurt her? I don't want to hurt her."
But, yeah, it would have been nice to meet,
but my adopted mum wouldn't give too much information to me.
I suppose I understood in a way
because, obviously, she's brought me up and she's given me a good life
of happiness and love and everything.
Yeah, it was quite hard for her, I suppose.
Out of loyalty, Sandy didn't search for her birth mother.
She met her husband Andy and started her own family.
But just before her first child was born,
her adoptive mum, Jessie, died.
When the grieving passed, Sandy felt able to look for her birth mother.
I always said to myself I wouldn't look for my birth mum
until this sadness happens.
Sandy went to see social services,
who not only had her adoption papers,
but also a box full of precious mementos,
saved meticulously by her mother.
That was your mum's signature there, look.
This is amazing because I'm surprised they've kept it this long.
That was what they tie around the crib, when you're born,
and it's got the weight of...
It says baby. It's in pink.
The name was Smith. The weight was 4-14
and the time of birth was five past three.
Five past three.
I remember on the day you were quite tearful, weren't you?
Because it was quite a shock.
I was shocked to see that.
-Do you remember?
-You're getting all emotional now, aren't you?
Well, that's what I mean, that's what happened.
Then you get the milk tokens.
I mean, that's weird, milk tokens.
Yeah, because you were give tokens so you could buy milk.
But, like you say...
I'll keep that forever because
it's a hard thing to see, isn't it?
-Don't get upset. Are you all right?
For Sandy, the box of treasured memories revealed
that even though their relationship lasted just four precious weeks,
it was full of nurturing and love.
One of the things that you said to me
was, you said, "I don't know whether
"my mum, did she care for me? Did she not care for me? Was she...?"
You can tell immediately, when you see all the things, that she probably
-didn't really want you to be adopted.
She looked after me in hospital for four weeks until I got to the right
weight and before I was allowed to leave,
so that must have been hard for her.
She's looked after me, fed me, whatever.
Then, obviously, had to give me up,
so that must have been heartbreaking really.
You felt better though, didn't you?
-Because you knew that she cared for you, then.
I remember that was quite a hard time, wasn't it?
It was just a hard time, 1970, with a big family as well.
So, obviously she had to do what she had to do, best for me.
Alongside the precious record of their time together was vital
new information about Sandy's mum.
So we went to the records office and we got the birth certificate,
didn't we? 19... So this was '97, wasn't it?
Yeah, we got the birth certificate.
And that's when it had the address on, didn't it?
Of where your mother lived.
Now they had an address, they had to decide what to do.
Instinctively, Sandy wanted to go to the house where her mum lived
when she was born.
They left Norfolk and headed to Brafferton, near Darlington.
Would Sandy's mum still be living there?
Then we probably sat in the car for, I don't know,
an hour or something thinking about it.
Because we found the house and I was looking, saying to you...
-Can you remember?
-To see if we could see anyone walking about...
-See anyone come out.
We didn't see anyone, did we, come out of house?
We were hoping to see, like a... I don't know.
We thought, "Would she would look like you?" I think, didn't we?
-We both thought that, yes.
-We were looking then, weren't we? Thinking,
"I hope a woman comes out who looks like you and I can knock on the door."
After a long wait, Andy decided there was nothing to lose
and went up to the house.
I was knocking on the door and you were in the car, I think.
A woman came to the door and I asked her and she said,
"I don't know what you're talking about.
"Sorry, I don't know anybody of that name."
We didn't know whether to go on.
It was a bit of a nightmare, wasn't it, really?
The trip to Brafferton had failed to unearth any trace of Sandy's mother.
For now, they'd hit a brick wall.
Baffled, weren't we?
Thinking, "What do we do now?"
It is hard because...
Like I say, it's hard to describe because you can't give up, can you?
No, because there's always a gap and you think, "I have to fill that gap."
I need to find it, find out.
Sandy's search appeared to be over,
but unbeknown to her, expert help was just around the corner.
100 miles away in Merseyside, Alfred Alcorn, born Alfie Denny,
is on a family finding quest of his own.
I was born in 1941 in Birkenhead.
Alfie lived with his mother Anna-Cecilia and older brother
Tony close to the Liverpool docks during World War II.
I remember my mum vividly.
She was alone during the war, of course,
and I remember her being taken away in an ambulance several times
to go to the hospital, coughing blood.
Alfie's mum had contracted tuberculosis, a common
bacterial disease that, before the advent of antibiotics,
could prove fatal.
And then my dad came back,
he came back from the war.
He was demobbed, oh, probably 19...
Late '45, early '46.
They were together and we were a family for a while.
Alfie and his brother enjoyed their childhood in post-war Liverpool.
Very early on, my brother and I had a lot of freedom,
I was probably six years old.
You know, we would just hang around the docks and just go for miles,
walking along the docks.
We would go down, get on the ferry and go back and forth
to Liverpool for almost nothing,
and pretend that we were in the Royal Navy.
That freedom to hang around was amazing.
Even as a teenager, I didn't have that kind of freedom.
But this carefree period didn't last.
Sadly, Alfie's father became ill.
I think around 1946, late '46,
he was diagnosed with leukaemia
and he died in December of 1947.
And then my mother's condition worsened
and she just got sicker and sicker.
Her condition meant Alfie's mother was unable to care for her two sons,
so Alfie and his brother were sent to live with his mother's family
in rural Ireland.
And that was a total change of life.
It was a little bit like going back to the 19th century
because we were picked up at the station in a pony and trap.
Alfie's ailing mother then wanted to join them in Ireland.
She wanted to come home but, at that time tuberculosis was, kind of,
the slow Ebola of the day.
I mean, people simply tried to avoid it.
Alfie's Irish relatives made the heart-wrenching decision
not to allow his mother to return
and then the news came from Liverpool that she had passed away.
They held a wake without her body.
Everybody gathered from around,
people recollecting what Anna-Cecelia was like.
You know, I was eight years old at that time.
We did have a family and then there wasn't any.
It was they who suffered.
Now orphans, Alfie and his brother Tony were adopted by
his mother's sister in America.
My mother had a sister, Mary,
who'd emigrated to America back in the '20s
and had married a dairy farmer named Alcorn -
that's where I get the name Alcorn -
so I went from being Alfred Denny to Alfred Alcorn.
Now living on a dairy farm, in New England, life was tough.
My aunt had a terrific temper.
The feeling was that there was simply not enough
gratitude in the world to, you know,
pay for this, to give for this.
And there was a lot of work to do on the farm,
but it meant getting up in the morning and helping out,
and the New England winters are brutal.
But Alfie came through this tough childhood
and the States proved to have a lot to offer the lad from Liverpool.
America had long been a magnet for immigrants from all
four corners of the globe.
Alfie's aunt arrived in the 1920s,
part of an immigration boom known as The Great Wave.
And for the young Alfie, 1950s America was a land of promise.
The country's economy was booming.
With victory in the bag and cash in their pockets,
Americans could confidently chase the American Dream.
The ideal that freedom, opportunity and equality
should be made available to all, regardless of class.
The frugality of the Great Depression and the war years
gave way to a period of materialism,
as society's pent-up demand for consumer goods was unleashed.
New cars, houses and other luxuries,
once the reserve of the upper classes,
were in the grasp of more people than ever before.
Alfie couldn't have arrived at a better time.
Alfie took full advantage of what his new life
across the pond could offer.
He carved out a successful career
in the Natural History department at Harvard University
and became a widely-read novelist and crime writer.
But he never forgot his roots
and the family he'd left behind in Ireland and in Liverpool.
We stayed in touch with the Irish side of the family,
but that other side of the family just seemed to disappear.
It became, kind of, like a shadow life before.
Almost like, did it really happen?
In the 1980s, desperate to reconnect with his father's side
of the family, the Dennys,
Alfie made two separate trips to Liverpool.
I spent a couple of days in and around Liverpool,
just trying to find out about the Dennys.
I couldn't find anything.
I came back here several years ago with my brother
and he remembered more, and so we walked over to Limekiln Lane.
We went along the docks.
We also found the hospital where we saw our dad for the last time,
but no Dennys.
With no living relatives to be found,
Alfie returned to America disappointed.
But little did he realise, his Liverpudlian Denny family
were about to reappear.
In Norfolk, Sandy Smith's search for her birth mother Janet
had hit a dead end, but Sandy refused to take defeat lying down.
She turned to the internet,
desperate for some kind of breakthrough.
I went on the internet and typed in, "Find a birth parent."
I thought I'd type that because I'd never tried that one.
The combination that you'd tried, probably "find a family," "find a friend,"
-"find a sister," "find a mother."
-"Find a birth parent."
Then there were loads of ads on there, what other people had put on
and I thought, "Oh, that looks interesting."
Sandy posted a message asking if anyone could help
and it turned out someone felt they could.
Sandy had been looking for her mum for 19 years
and I just felt, you know, after 19 years of looking
and not being able to find her,
a little bit of help from us could go a long way in that sense.
Family detective Fraser Kinnie knows every trick in the book
when it comes to navigating the internet.
He saw Sandy's advert online
and approached her, saying he could find her mum for a fee.
I think Sandy and Andy were quite wary, as anyone would be,
when I offered to help.
But I think it didn't take too long before they realised that there
was some substance to what I was saying.
I think then, once you start doing the research
and you can come up with information about the family,
they start realising that you're on their side, in a sense,
there to help them if you can.
From her adoption papers, Sandy knew
her mum's name was Janet Smith, born on the 6th of May, 1952.
In 1952, in the UK, there were 137 Janet Smiths born.
What we had to do was work out which Janet Smith we were talking about.
We had a date of birth for Janet Smith,
which then drastically reduced the number.
What we then tried to do was close it down by the areas that we
thought she was born.
Fraser knew she was born in the Darlington area.
Out of the 21 possible Janet Smiths,
there was one born in Northallerton
and because of the proximity of Northallerton and Darlington,
my hunch was that it was most likely that one.
The only way we could prove it was to find that birth certificate and that
then would confirm the date of birth on this certificate as being
the date of birth that we knew for Janet.
Fraser's wife Tracey went to County Durham
to get hold of the birth certificate.
Would it match the date of birth on Sandy's adoption papers?
Tracey went down there, bought that certificate and instantly she phoned
me up, and it was good news for us because we knew we were right then.
The dates of birth matched.
They had the right Janet Smith and now they also had the names
of Janet's mum and dad, Sandy's grandparents.
From that information, we could then start looking for Janet's siblings.
It was a key breakthrough.
In a matter of minutes, Fraser had tracked down possible
addresses for Sandy's aunts, Wendy and Linda.
Tracey was on her way back from Northallerton,
so I asked Tracey to go up to Darlington and knock on the door,
and hand the telephone to whoever answered the door.
I didn't know what to expect, turning up unannounced,
but as soon as I knocked on the door and once we explained who we were
and asked Wendy was she the sister of Janet,
when her niece was trying to contact her,
-she burst into tears.
We knew straight away.
WENDY: I just got a knock on the door.
She said, "Do you have a mum called Veronica,
"a dad called Charlie and
"a sister called Janet?"
-And I said, "Yeah." And that's what set me off.
Because she said, "We've found...
It was the breakthrough Sandy had so desperately been hoping for
and Fraser got straight on the phone.
-He told me that he'd found your aunties.
And you were still at the school, picking the girls up.
And when you come in, I told you and you were crying.
I just burst into tears.
Wendy and Linda are Sandy's mum, Janet's, younger sisters,
two of 13 children who grew up in Brafferton in North Yorkshire,
where their father was involved in pig farming.
It was very hard then, wasn't it?
I think she was 18 when she got pregnant.
With such a big family, there was little room for another.
I wouldn't have wanted to give it up from six weeks.
It'd have been a hard choice to make, wouldn't it?
Yeah, I think it was a decision because there was all of us.
-We were very young and that.
Being so much older than Linda and Wendy,
Janet was very much a mother figure to both of them.
-My friends used to think my sister Janet was my mum...
..but she wasn't. And when they saw our proper parents, my mum and dad,
-they used to think that they were our grandparents.
Despite the sister's closeness,
Janet rarely felt able to discuss the child she'd had to let go.
I never spoke about it because Janet never spoke about it.
It's only because of what mum said to me, you know what I mean?
And I just used to say, "You've got a little girl called Sandy?"
and Janet used to say, "Yeah."
But if I'd asked any more questions,
she used to just turn round and say, "I don't want to talk about it."
Yeah, I think she maybe thought I was too young, to not talk about...
-But we did know about her, didn't we?
Janet had lost Sandy but went on to live a full life.
-Oh, Janet was happy-go-lucky.
She used to love her singing and... Don't know, she just...
Yeah, used to always get on the karaoke.
-..loved being around people.
Sadly, Janet died in 2002 from cancer.
12 years later, Linda and Wendy were overjoyed to hear,
out of the blue, from Janet's daughter Sandy.
-She rung me and...
I was talking to her as if I'd known her for years, you know what I mean?
It was just like...
-our big sister's come back.
Shame she couldn't have met her though, isn't it?
But the other thing I think now is...
she's given us the next best thing.
Sandy has met her aunts just a handful of times and today is a much
welcomed chance for the three of them to get to know each other more.
-Are you all right?
Remember the first time like this, eh?
I know, yeah. It's always like the first time meeting
-when we see Sandy.
-It only seemed like five minutes ago, didn't it?
It always feels like the first time every time we meet, doesn't it?
-Yeah, it does.
-We'll never forget that.
You don't want to start, do you?
For Sandy, Wendy and Linda, being reunited provides them all
with a new emotional connection to Janet.
It feels as if we've known each other for years, doesn't it?
-It does, yeah.
-It feels like, from the first phone call...
-Yeah, we just got on so well.
-That was nerve racking that, like.
Shall I? Shall I? Yeah, I will.
It was like our Janet talking to me again
and that was overwhelming as well, you know what I mean?
It was like...
Oh, she's given us a good thing here, you know what I mean?
You'll know that, won't you? Because, obviously, I've never heard her talk.
When it comes out of me, you'll be thinking of your sister.
Yes, of course. We look at you and we can see her,
you know what I mean?
It's scary, isn't it?
Isn't it a lovely day?
Today, Linda and Wendy want to show Sandy where her mum Janet grew up...
and it's a place Sandy recognises from earlier in her search.
God, it's weird coming back here after 13 years.
We knocked on that door, trying to find my mum.
-I know, it's a shame we weren't here.
-Because we didn't live here then.
-The woman that...
-Imagine what it'd been like.
The woman that answered the door, she said she didn't know.
It's quite nice to come back here with yous.
You'll have to move here, Sandy, to the village.
Like, my mum used to knock round here with yous and things,
-know what I mean?
It's quite unreal, to be honest.
The aunts are keen for Sandy to learn as much as she can
about her mother.
They're taking her to meet their older brother Rob,
who has lots of photos of Janet.
-Hello, are you all right?
-How are you doing?
I'm fine, thank you. Yeah, you?
-Are you all right, Rob?
It's nice to see photos of my mum because, when I look at them,
I think, "Some of them just look like me."
-You try and work out what's happened by looking at the picture...
-..or what she's been doing.
As you can see, she's had a fun life.
-It's the blonde hair.
-I haven't seen them ones before.
It looks like she's happy enough. I always wondered what she looked like.
Until you see photos and that, then you don't, so...
Did you think, "Oh, she just looks like me"?
-I did, yeah, she's got a look of me, yeah.
Because I always wondered, when I was younger, when...
"Do I look like my mum? Do I look like my dad?"
You don't know, do you?
So defo my mum.
Me mum looks happy holding a baby.
Yeah, that's what I keep looking at, when she's got hold of the baby.
-The smile's different.
-Yeah. She must be thinking...
..of me, yeah.
Glad I've found yous.
You can have that now, can't you?
-I did say I wasn't going to cry.
-You're setting me off.
There's nowt wrong with crying, lass, it just shows that you care.
I was just looking at the photos and things.
You can see she's had fun and that,
even though she had to give me up at the end.
-It would have been hard for our Janet, wouldn't it, like?
Giving you up and then having to carry on with life.
Because she'd have known in her mind that...
-That you were there, somewhere.
-..I was there, somewhere.
Sandy knows for sure that her mum never forgot her
and always hoped one day she'd return,
and she has the proof.
I got a ring given off one of my mum's friends.
The words were, my mum said,
"If my daughter ever turns up, please give her this ring."
And because I turned up and found you all, she gave me the ring...
-..which was quite emotional.
It'll be with me forever and I'll treasure it as much as I can.
-She always wore it and she'd expect you to always wear it, wouldn't she?
The ring has brought Sandy physically closer to her mum
and Sandy's return to her family has only strengthened
her aunts' memories of a much missed sister.
-Nobody could say you don't look like your mother.
You're two peas in a pod.
The photos, and that, I've seen today were quite upsetting
because they're all of my mum and the family.
And it's just upsetting because I think she looks like me.
Yeah, I got upset. I didn't want to but I did.
Now I've found my family, I relate my mum through
my aunties and uncles.
It still hasn't sunk in properly yet.
-Yeah, it's only been a few months since we met her.
-I still wake up
-and think we were just dreaming it, know what I mean?
But no, no.
-It's still emotional sometimes as well.
-Aye, of course it is.
-There's no keeping her away now, is there?
No, that's it, she's got us all now. She's got us all.
Might be a long way away, but not in our hearts and our mind.
I've learnt a lot today about my mum
and I'm so glad that I've heard such great things about her.
It's just a shame that I didn't get to meet her
but, yeah, it's been great today.
Alfie Alcorn was born in Liverpool,
but aged just eight, he was adopted by relatives in America
after both his parents died.
Alfie's been desperate to track down any family on his father's side,
but after two separate trips to Liverpool ended in failure,
he'd given up hope.
I spent a couple of days, in and around Liverpool,
just trying to find out about the Dennys,
but no Dennys.
But 60 miles away in Colne, Lancashire,
73-year-old John Denny
has also been wondering about his father's life.
Because I was born in the war, like a lot of kids,
we never knew our fathers.
My dad was away in active service in Brazil, Argentina,
all over the world basically.
And as a child growing up in wartime Liverpool,
his dad's wider family also remained largely a mystery.
On my father's side, he was one of,
I think it was, eight children.
At that time, you didn't really know just who was who.
Now kids can ask their parents anything,
or get told everything by their parents.
When I was a kid, you wouldn't dare to ask questions.
John's determination to find out more about his dad's family
has only grown with time.
As you get older, people disappear,
they either leave town or you've been told that they've died.
It's part of your ageing process.
I realise now that I didn't know that much about my own family
and I don't want my granddaughter to not know who her family was.
So John resolved to create a family tree for his granddaughter.
During the course of the research, he typed his own name
into an internet search engine and made a life-changing discovery.
I used one of the search engines and put my own name in,
and it came up with the name of Alfred John Alcorn.
And I thought, "What is Alfred John Alcorn got to do with John Denny?"
And it turns out he's an American author.
A little more digging uncovered further details about this
mysterious Mr Alcorn.
There was a bio that said that Alfred John Alcorn was
born in June, 1941,
and his name at that time was Alfred John Denny.
So as I read further into his bio, he talks about his dad,
who was Alfred James Denny,
and, wow, did that ring a bell.
That was Pop's brother.
John had stumbled across a cousin he never knew existed.
Next, he went on social media and struck gold.
It showed an Alfred John,
or Alfred J Alcorn in Boston,
so I thought, "That's my man."
I sent him a friend request and,
although there's a five-hour time lag between here and Boston,
there was an answer about 20 minutes later.
"Hi, John. How the hell have you found me?
"Where are you?
"I think we're related."
I wrote back immediately and at first a little bit,
not sceptical, but since I'd been so unsuccessful,
not quite believing.
And then it, you know, became obvious that John was my first cousin.
He was overjoyed, I think, because I think he'd found the key
to a side of the family,
a side of his life, he just knew absolutely nothing about.
It was a really nice surprise to suddenly think, "Wow."
You know, again this was this shadow world,
almost a ghost world,
that was coming to life.
Over the past 20 years, the internet has revolutionised
the process of finding missing relatives.
Without leaving your home,
you have a wealth of genealogy research tools at your fingertips.
Message boards are a great way to share information and to
connect with other people who are also searching for lost relatives.
And, of course, there's social media,
which can be a very immediate way of tracking someone down.
But if you do find someone quickly via this route,
don't act straight away.
Take time to consider how to make contact
and think about the potential impact this might have on you and them.
It can be a good idea to use an intermediary,
especially in cases of adoption, where it's strongly recommended
you only proceed with the help
and advice of an experienced adoption counsellor.
After more than 60 years' separation,
Alfred has finally found his Liverpool family
and John now has a new connection to his own father's past.
I'd felt that our family hadn't treated Alfie
as he deserved to be treated, following the death of his parents.
And I wanted to try, if I could, help him in some way.
Realising Alfie only had faint memories of his father,
John sent him a photograph.
I remembered him in my memories,
but I had no photographic evidence at all,
and then I got this picture
of him in his uniform.
It was the first time Alfie had seen his father's face
in over 60 years.
It was just incredibly gratifying
to be able to look at this picture and remember him.
And so the memory lined up with the photograph, so to speak.
And it took me a little while for that to happen, but then it did.
Now, nine months after they first made contact,
Alfie's come over from America to Liverpool, with his wife Sally,
to meet John for what may, or may not, be the very first time.
I have this very, very faint recollection of visiting this
family who'd got a couple of kids
about my age.
Now, with hindsight,
it could well of been Alfie.
It's going to be about 70 years since that meeting,
if we did even actually meet then, but I'm pretty sure now that we did.
They've arranged to meet at the Old Docks in Liverpool,
an area much changed since their childhoods.
I don't know quite what to expect,
first cousin, my age.
I don't think he's a teetotaller...
..so we have some things in common.
Basically, I just want to thank him,
you know, for opening up that
closed chapter of my life.
I think it will be kind of amazing to find...
To be able to just speak directly back and forth.
I'm sure other things will become unearthed.
In all honesty, I don't know quite what to expect.
One has a picture of the
atypical American, sort of loud and brash.
But then again, the guy is a limey at heart.
He was born a scouser
and will be a scouser,
so we'll just have to wait and see.
So it all builds up to a degree of,
shall we say, nervous anticipation.
It's... You know, words fail me.
It's mega. It really is mega.
I think I recognise the old, red brick
more than anything else
because, like everything else, it's been, kind of,
tarted up over the years.
Ah, I love this little, these little docks.
OK... Good God, that's him!
You old dog!
-How are you?
-You've kept me waiting nine months.
-I did, I did. Nine months, yeah.
-And I've kept you waiting 73 years.
-Hello, lovely to meet you, John.
-It is. Good for you for pulling this one off.
Yeah, thank you.
-Thank you so much.
-God, you're the first Denny I've seen in...
-..in nearly 70 years.
Aware of all the gaps in Alfie's knowledge,
John's brought with him a case full of precious memories
of the Liverpool family he's barely known,
including the photograph of his father.
-That's Alfred James.
-Not a bad-looking fella.
-Well, all of the Dennys are handsome.
Yeah, that's true.
It is incredible to see another picture
and what's really incredible is that box of goodies.
-Well, you've had to wait for that then.
-I know, I know.
That's going to take us...
We've got to live a few more years so we can get through that.
So what do your kids think about this?
They're happy for me. They think I feel more legitimate now somehow.
You have made all of the Dennys talk again.
Really?! OK, well, you made me...
-You know... It's your fault.
-No, it's not. It's yours.
Alfie may have the rest of his life to catch up on the family history,
but he only has a couple of days in his old home town.
And with his new-found cousin, he's keen to spend time retracing
his life as a child, growing up around the Liverpool docks...
..starting with the street where he lived as a little boy.
-Sherlock Lane, I remember that.
So it's a little bit Sherlock Holmes that we found it.
A little bit, yeah.
And then the entrance to the house is up and in to the...
-It's in the ginnel, is it?
-Do you want to...?
-Let's give that a go.
Alfie's old house is still standing.
He and his family lived above a shop,
though things have changed somewhat since then.
I lived here back in the early '40s...
..with my bother and my mother and,
at times my dad, he was away in the war...
and this was an old bicycle shop.
It is one of those things that's just simply hard to of imagined
back then that there would have been this kind of abundance now.
Then it's time to take a look round the back -
Alfie's natural playground as a kid.
We used to have Guy Fawkes bonfires here,
right on this area right here, yeah.
And it's not just Alfie for whom memories are stirring.
I'm pretty sure now that that recollection I've got...
Because it was the terrace and that was it.
And I remember coming out through the house, into a back yard,
which presumably is going to be there.
-back yard. The
-back yard. Yeah.
-I think you and I have actually played together.
-We may have, yeah.
And for two small boys growing up, what could be more exciting
than a treacle factory on the doorstep?
These used to molasses then?
-There were two or three that were molasses...
..and they bricked them up against the Luftwaffe
because you didn't want molasses all over the place.
You'd come to a sticky end, I should say. But when they trucks would
pull in, or when they were coming out, would slow down
and it was still dripping from where it discharged the molasses.
We'd ride on the back of a truck for a while,
taking a finger and licking the stuff off.
Didn't your mum give you some...?
Sweet memories for Alfie.
The perfect end to a momentous day, which has put him back in touch
with his father's side off the family after more than 60 years.
The whole world has changed,
so it's coming back to the same area,
but you're not coming back to the same place.
I had a link to my past before but now I have a living link.
It's the other side of my family, where I came from,
and maybe it's a form of egotism, but I'm very curious about them.
Coming round with Alfie, it's just blowing my mind away,
it really is.
He's really pleased, I think.
It's a shame that we've missed what we have.
But I tell you what, the last few days...
..it's as if I've known the guy all my life, it really is.
What happened to Alfie has made him what he is today,
and having seen the surroundings and all the rest of it,
I don't think Alfie would have achieved half as much.
I mean, OK, we might have been great mates
and all the rest of it, and that would have been fantastic,
but I don't think he'd have been the man he is today
without all of those formative years,
however awful they must have been for him and his brother.
It really is... It is...
It's moving. I'm sorry.
John's invited me over, we've come, it's been amazing so far.
And I think it's my turn now to invite him to the United States,
to New England, and show him some of the life that I did lead.
Reunited, the cousins can't wait to make up for lost time.