Family search ends in joy 
after 30 years

Surprise! Surprise. Look out Cilla. An advert in the Leader led to an emotional reunion for a Dromore family after a 30-year search.

The advert had been placed in the Leader in 1988 and was answered in just two weeks but it took a further four years to plan the tear-jerking get together.

Relatives from Australia and Dromore met for the first time in July 1993 thanks to the power of the press.

The search began when Janet Wilson (nee Stewart), who was born in Belfast, left for Perth, Australia with her husband and two children in 1961 and started wondering about her relatives in Ireland.

But it was not until her husband’s death in 1974 that she actively took up the search by reading up on the history of the Stewart name and sending off for birth certificates.

In 1988 in the hope of advancing her search she wrote to the editor of The Leader asking for help.

Janet said: “I never really expected anything to come of it so I was delighted to receive a letter from Helen Stewart saying she was my father’s cousin.

“I had been reading up on the Scottish and Irish history in Australia and I realised Stewart was not an Irish name so I became interested in tracing the family’s roots to see how they came to Ireland.”

Helen was, at that stage, almost 91-years-old but had an extremely clear memory and was an avid Leader reader