Long-lost sisters reunited after 72 years

28/05/2019 Posted by admin

Long-lost sisters reunited after 72 years TOGETHER AT LAST: Long-lost sisters Anne Whitney (left) and June ‘Marie’ Reid have been reunited after 72 years. The last time they saw each other, Marie was placed in a children’s home in England. Picture: Geoff Jones
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FAMILY RESEMBLANCE: Anne Whitney (maroon top) and June ‘Marie’ Reid with Anne’s daughter Pamela Girard – and Marie’s dog Shaaih – at Marie’s South Windsor home during Anne and Pamela’s recent visit from Canada. Picture: Geoff Jones

Long lost sisters Anne Whitney (maroon top), June ‘Marie’ Reid and Anne’s daughter Pamela Girard with Marie’s dog Shaaih at Marie’s South Windsor home, reunited after 70 years. Picture: Geoff Jones

Long lost sisters Anne Whitney (maroon top) and June ‘Marie’ Reid at Marie’s South Windsor home, reunited after 70 years. Picture: Geoff Jones

Long lost sisters Anne Whitney (maroon top) and June ‘Marie’ Reid at Marie’s South Windsor home, reunited after 70 years. Picture: Geoff Jones

Long lost sisters Anne Whitney (maroon top) and June ‘Marie’ Reid at Marie’s South Windsor home, reunited after 70 years. Picture: Geoff Jones

Long lost sisters Anne Whitney (maroon top) and June ‘Marie’ Reid at Marie’s South Windsor home, reunited after 70 years. Picture: Geoff Jones

Long lost sisters Anne Whitney (maroon top) and June ‘Marie’ Reid at Marie’s South Windsor home, reunited after 70 years. Picture: Geoff Jones

Long lost sisters Anne Whitney (maroon top) and June ‘Marie’ Reid at Marie’s South Windsor home, reunited after 70 years. Picture: Geoff Jones

Long lost sisters Anne Whitney (maroon top) and June ‘Marie’ Reid at Marie’s South Windsor home, reunited after 70 years. Picture: Geoff Jones

Long lost sisters Anne Whitney (maroon top) and June ‘Marie’ Reid at Marie’s South Windsor home, reunited after 70 years. Picture: Geoff Jones

Long lost sisters Anne Whitney (maroon top) and June ‘Marie’ Reid at Marie’s South Windsor home, reunited after 70 years. Picture: Geoff Jones

TweetFacebookMarie’s story“I was nearly 11 when I was sent to Australia,” Marie said.

“Then I was placed in Dr Barnardos Girls’ Home in Burwood and I stayed there for four years –four years too long –it was hell, I can tell you.”

Marie wasone of about 15,000 children who were sent to far-flung destinations (including Australia, New Zealand, Rhodesia and Canada) after the Second World War, as part of the UK’s child migration policy.

Anne Whitney (maroon top) and June ‘Marie’ Reid tell their story, with Anne’s daughter Pamela Girard. Video: Geoff JonesPost by Anne Whitney (maroon top) and June ‘Marie’ Reid tell their story, with Anne’s daughter Pamela Girard. Video: Geoff Jones.

Anne’s storyAnne Whitney will turn 74 this June. As fate would have it, she also lives in a place called Windsor –in Ontario, Canada. “I thought that was quite ironic,” she saidwhile visiting the Hawkesbury.

Anne was three when she was sent to Canada. She remembers arriving there on the boat, and going to live with a couplewho –many years later – she found out were her paternal grandfather and grandmother.

“The story I was told growing up was that their son –my actual father – was a friend of my father’s, and that my father had been killed in the war so they took me in,” she said.

“My father was in and out of my life as ‘an uncle’. It wasn’t until I was 15 when my grandmother died that one of my dad’s sisters told me that her brother, Sam, was in fact my father.”

FAMILY RESEMBLANCE: Anne Whitney (maroon top), June ‘Marie’ Reid and Anne’s daughter Pamela Girard – with Marie’s dog Shaaih – at South Windsor during Anne and Pamela’s recent visit from Canada. Picture: Geoff Jones

With no official papers, Anne enlisted the help of a contact who did family research, to help her find her mother. She knew she had been born in the Surrey, Somerset area of England, and they put an ad in the local newspaper. One of Anne’s half-brother’s friends saw the ad and showed it to Anne’s mother, who confirmed it was her child.

In 2009, Anne flew to England to see her 89-year-old mother, who verifiedSam was her father. She met various of her half-brothers and sisters, but no-one ever mentioned her older sister Marie –and Anne, having been only two when she last saw Marie, couldn’t even remember her to ask.

She didrecall an older child helping her with a scraped leg as a toddler –Marie has since confirmed this was her –but when Anne asked her mother who that child was, her mother said it had beenthe child of her employers.

“June and I were visiting England and just missing each other, meeting the family, and they didn’t tell us about each other,” she said.

The reunionThe pair were finally reunited through the Child Migrants Trust, launched by Margaret Humphries –a Nottingham social worker who published the book Empty Cradles in 1994 about the thousands of children who weredeported from Britain.

Marie had enlisted the help of various organisations over the years to help her find Anne, including Barnado’s and the Salvation Army, but hadn’t had any luck.

The Child Migrants Trust contacted Marie 22 years ago, butit took until 2016 to finally locate Anne.

Marie Reid

When they contacted Anne by phone, it was the first she had heard of hersister. Due to rifts in the family, she was hesitant about making contact with Marie, but they began connecting via video call and it wasn’t long before Anne and her daughter Pamela set about making a plan to come to Australia.

In person, they connected immediately. Pamela saidthey were “like two peas in a pod”.

“As soon as I saw Anne coming through customs I went over and we grabbed one another and hugged and kissed. I thought I was going to start crying and Anne was a bit teary,” said Marie.

“It’s just heaven –I still can’t believe it. I’ve been looking for her for so long and I didn’t think I’d ever find her.”

Anne said meeting Marie was like ‘closure’: “I grew up with literally noone, just these people that were meant to be related, but they didn’t really treat me like I was part of the family,” she said.

PEAS IN A POD: Sisters Anne Whitney (maroon top) and June ‘Marie’ Reid during Anne’s recent visit to Marie’s South Windsor home. Picture: Geoff Jones

“My husband died when I was 22 and I remarried 20years ago –I was alone for 30 years I guess.

“If it wasn’t for June and the work she’s done and the time she’s spent looking for me, I would never have known about her.

“Everyone here calls her Marie, but I still call her June, because that’s her name.”

Marie has written her life’s story in numerous exercise books and is hoping to have it published one day.

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