Harry, is a resident of Kinloch View in Linlithgow, one of McCarthy & Stones retirement homes in Scotland. Harry moved to his new retirement home after he found himself struggling to cope with living on his own after his wife had died. The harsh winter of 2009 made Harry feel isolated in his previous house where he had lived for nearly 60 years, which isnt far from where he currently lives.
At 91-years-old flew 9000 miles to Australia to meet a sister he never knew he had after contact was made through a history group researching the family.
Harry Hogburn always believed his dad, Frederick, a Royal Marine, had died when he was a baby, leaving mum Isabella to raise him as an only child from their home in Dunfermline. However, he recently discovered his father had moved back to Wokingham, where he remarried in 1929 and had a second child, Nora, the following year.
The grandad-of-three only found out about his sister after his son-in-law, Allan, and his then unknown niece, Wanda, contacted the Wokingham Remembers website. Wokingham Remembers traces the lives of the servicemen from the town who had fought in both World Wars. They had information about Frederick, who was originally from Wokingham, which led to both families contacting it with conflicting details.
Harry said: "It was very emotional to find out I had a sister when you learn something like that at my age its a bit of a trauma to be honest. Id been going 90 years on my own, then to discover this was completely overwhelming. I cried buckets. I was so happy, but also so sad that this hadn't happened much earlier in my life when my wife, Gladys, was still alive to share this marvellous story."
Retired travelling salesman Harry suffers from heart problems and had a chest infection that threatened to stop him from flying for the reunion. His doctor had suggested that it might be a good idea to ensure supplemental oxygen was available on the journey in case he needed it. However, grandfather Harry managed to travel on four separate long-haul flights, a total of 37 hours without needing to use any extra oxygen. One of the stewards on the plane told Harry that he was the oldest passenger he had ever travelled with.
Harry, his daughter, Shirley, and his son-in law, Allan, made the emotional journey. Nora, 82 was waiting to greet them when they arrived at the airport in Perth, Australia. "Im quite an emotional person anyway so there were a lot of tears," Harry said. I had always wanted to be a brother and there I was meeting my sister for the first time. When I met Nora I could see the resemblance straight away. People who have seen the photographs of us together say the same thing, they think we look very alike. We share the same love of music with Mario Lanza being our favourite."
Nora has three daughters two of them live in Western Australia and the other, Wanda, lives in Bracknell. Harry added. "My newly discovered family are also extremely pleased about the reunion as well. It has been delightful to meet them and they are all lovely people." Harry and Nora met every day during the two-week trip and he now plans to keep in touch.
Since returning from Australia, Allan and Wanda have continued their research and have found two more relatives for Harry, both are surviving children of his father's siblings, one cousin lives in Reading and the other lives in Canada. Harry's next trip will take him to Wokingham in April where he hopes to meet one of his new cousins for the first time, spend more time with his niece Wanda and explore the area where his father was born and spent most of his life.
Shirley, his daughter said it had given her Dad a renewed optimism after the death of Gladys His world fell apart when mum died but now hes met Nora he said it was one of the highlights of his life. To be having this momentous thing happen to you when youre 91 is just fabulous. Were all busy planning our next trip to Australia to see Nora again in 2014!