Siblings reunited after 60 years through Facebook

A BROTHER and sister have found each other again after 60 years apart -- thanks to the power of Facebook.

Scots siblings Allan Healy, aged 66, and Margaret Mitchell, aged 67, reunited just outside Dundee. Picture: hemedia
Scots siblings Allan Healy, aged 66, and Margaret Mitchell, aged 67, reunited just outside Dundee. Picture: hemedia

Allan Healy, 66, and Margaret Mitchell, 67, emotionally reunited in Douglas last week - just over a mile but a lifetime from when they were last together as children in Broughty Ferry.

The silver surfers found each other on Facebook after Allan changed his profile picture to a photo of himself, his brother, Stewart, and his long-lost sister.

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Coincidently, the siblings had both been using the social networking site to find each other after an agonising 60 years apart.

Allan said: “I scoured birth and marriage certificates voting registers and other records to try to find my sister,

“My search took me to Scotland, where I at first drew a blank because of the different system with data protection,

“Then I thought about Facebook and a cousin sent me a photograph of Stewart, Margaret and myself taken when we were children.

“It must have been one of the last that was taken in Dundee before we were separated.

“I made it my Facebook profile picture and put out a message for anyone who might know where Margaret Healy was to get in touch.”

Unknown to him, former night care assistant and grandmother Margaret was also using the social networking site to find her long lost brother.

Margaret said: “My neighbour Kathie is interested in family history, and she helped me by putting out a message for an Allan Healy, who I thought might still be in Plymouth.

“Then Kathie came through and said there was a photograph on Facebook with a young Allan Healy and a boy, pictured, and a girl with him - and I was the girl.

“I was amazed.”

Unfamiliar with the workings of the internet, Margaret’s son-in-law sent a message to Allan on Facebook and he replied.

The siblings then had a tearfilled telephone conversation, able to speak only after overcoming the shock of finding each other after 60 years.

Allan, who now lives in the South of England, travelled back to Dundee last week with his daughter and grandchildren for an emotional meeting with his long lost sister that “will never be forgotten.”

The pair were separated when Allan was only six years old.

John and Elizabeth Healy - Allan and Margaret’s parents - moved to Broughty Ferry, Dundee from Plymouth to make a home for their three children.

However, the couple split in 1954, and John took his two sons back to Plymouth, leaving Margaret and Elizabeth behind in Scotland.

John and his sons lived with his parents for a spell before he met his new wife.

The cooper by trade found a new job which came with a house but the dwelling was a tied cottage and there was no room for the boys.

The two brothers were sent to live in a Barnado’s home in Plymouth - it is an experience that Margaret and Allan cannot recount without tears and regret.

Allan joined the army and settled in Margate in Kent, while Stewart remained in Essex.

When his military career was over, he became a community warden and retired to Surrey.

Although happy with his life as a parent and grandparent he could not forget the sister he had last seen when he was a child in Dundee.

Allan said: “I got out of the car, looked over and saw Margaret standing there,

“I ran over and we hugged and cried.

“We couldn’t believe it that we were together again.”

Their other brother Stewart, now 69, was aware of their meeting but was not able to attend

Their father is now 90 and lives in Plymouth.

Margaret is planning to visit Allan at his home in Surrey in the next of what they are sure will be many happy family occasions.

A special moment in their reunion visit was when Allan and Margaret went to visit their mother Elizabeth, 88, in a care home in Dundee.

Suffering from Alzheimer’s, she has good and bad days and it was a private visit which Allan and Margaret approached with apprehension.

However, Margaret said they should not of worried as she said: “Hello mum, I’ve brought Allan to see you.”

Their mother looked up and put Margaret’s hand on Allan’s hand and put her hand on top and said “we’re together again”.