Grandfather plans historic family reunion using 192.com
Peter Faley from Ontario, Canada organised a 160 strong family reunion as well as a reunion of old friends using the UK's leading people finding website, 192.com.
Peter and his wife Maureen were on their way back from a trip to Italy when they wondered how fabulous it would be to take the children and grandchildren back to the UK to explore their roots.
Peter and Maureen are originally from Sunderland but emigrated to Canada in 1972 with their four children. Since then they have returned to the UK on a few occasions, only once though with their children. However, their children's spouses and 9 of their 10 grandchildren had never visited the UK.
To help make the event more memorable, Peter decided to organise a family reunion to coincide with their visit. But what started as a spark of an idea turned into six month's worth of investigations online, searching for relations up and down the UK and even around the world!
Finding Family from the Other Side of the World
Since emigrating to Canada, Peter had lost touch with a lot of his relatives back in the UK. His sister-in-law was still based in Sunderland so they used her as a starting point but even she was out of contact with many branches of the family as people had married and moved away. Peter knew he needed something more powerful to help with his search.
Fortunately, Peter's cousin from London is a keen genealogist and knew an awful lot about researching people online. After learning of his crusade to reunite the entire family, she pointed him in the direction of 192.com, a site she had relied on heavily to help with her own family tree research.
Peter used 192.com to search for names, addresses and phone numbers across the UK. In some cases, he sent letters to multiple addresses in the hope that he would find the person he was looking for. His research took him all across the UK and in some cases right around the world but every one of his successes was worth it.
With enough members of the family traced, the event was planned for one evening in August in their original home town, Sunderland. 120 guests were confirmed with a further 40 showing up on the day after hearing about the event through the family grapevine.
Some of the relations that attended the reunion Peter had not seen or spoken to in 54 years. Some of the younger members of the family, he had never even met! Many of the other, more local families at the event were also brought together for the first time in years - even though they only lived a few miles from each other!
Peter said of the event, “I spent hours on 192.com, to the point that Maureen was threatening me with divorce if I didn't get off the Internet! But the day was a resounding success with everyone agreeing that this was the best thing that we had ever done! ”
Mapping the Family Tree
Peter's cousin-in-law, Lesley (the keen genealogist that first introduced him to 192.com) also attended the reunion. There she unveiled a 31 page family tree, 20 foot in length, and was on hand to help people find themselves on it.
Lesley answered plenty of questions on the night from young and old a like, who were interested in the family's heritage and where they sat on the impressive family tree.
Searching for Friends from 50 Years Ago
Two weeks after the family reunion, Peter and Maureen also celebrated a reunion with about 40 of their old friends from their teenage years – people they first met over 50 years ago!
Using 192.com Peter found nearly all of the current addresses and telephone numbers for his old soccer buddies.
Tracing his old female friends proved more difficult as most of them had changed names. But Peter got clever. He started with estimated wedding dates and searched the Marriage register on 192.com, zeroing in on the Sunderland district. He also used more traditional methods including placing an ad in the Sunderland Echo.
Peter said, “The fact that my wife and I went to the same school together gave us a lot of common threads. It made it easier to find old friends but after 50 years it still proved challenging. I even had letters going all around the UK searching for one person”
He continued, “The spin off's have been remarkable, for example, just after the local news paper printed the article regarding the two events and a family group picture, we received a call from an elderly gentleman, the very same man I served my apprenticeship with from 1953 to 1959 then I joined the Merchant Navy. What a chance meeting. He is 85 years old and in great shape. He taught me so much and it served me so well it lasted a lifetime. What an ending. What a trip!”