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Aussie twins meet family 56 years on

PUBLISHED: 19:55 12 September 2008 | UPDATED: 21:16 05 July 2010

MEMBERS of a Lowestoft family have held a special get-together after seeing each other for the first time in 56 years.

After twins Paul and Malcolm Garner left the Suffolk town at the age of five to start a new life with their father and stepmother in Australia they lost links with their relatives in this country.

MEMBERS of a Lowestoft family have held a special get-together after seeing each other for the first time in 56 years.

After twins Paul and Malcolm Garner left the Suffolk town at the age of five to start a new life with their father and stepmother in Australia they lost links with their relatives in this country.

Their journey to the southern hemisphere also marked the end of a tragic beginning to their young lives.

Their 18-year-old mother, Vera, died just hours after giving birth on October 29, 1946, in Danbury, Essex, and their father, Arthur, who was serving with the Royal Navy returned home to see his two sons and be told about the loss of his wife.

While Arthur continued to serve with the Royal Navy the baby boys were looked after by their mother's relatives in Essex but when they were two years old Arthur left the navy and took his boys to live with his parents, Arthur and Daisy Garner, and their sons David and Chris, in Lowestoft.

The boys stayed in Lowestoft and attended Lovewell Road School for a year before going to Australia.

Malcolm said: “We cannot recall anything of our early years and have no recollection of living in Lowestoft.

Paul said: “We have really enjoyed meeting up with David, Chris and their families and also enjoyed seeing so much of Lowestoft and the surrounding area. It is a beautiful part of the country and we were even shown round our old school.”

The twins, now aged 61, recall growing up in Australia.

It was not until they were 45 that they were told their mother was not their birth mother, but their father refused to tell them about their early years until shortly before his death in 2001.

Paul's wife Val began an internet search to trace her husband and Malcolm's English relatives.

She tried contacting every Essex-based family with the surname Orriss as that was the maiden name of the twins' mother.

Eventually she struck lucky and made contact with 81-year-old Daisy Orriss whose husband had been the brother of Vera.

For the first time the twins were able to see a picture of their mother and learn about her tragic death from a blood clot five hours after giving birth.

They were also told about their time in Lowestoft and pieces of a family jigsaw were at last coming together.

Chris Garner, the twins' uncle, and his wife Susan are now living in Manitoba, Canada, but were able to meet up with their nephews in Australia in 2006.

This month, Paul and Malcolm travelled to Suffolk from their home at Thirlmere, which is about 50 miles from Sydney, to stay at the home of their uncle David Garner and his wife Rosemarie.

Also making the journey to Lowestoft was Chris and Susan and for the first time in 56 years the Garner family were able to sit down together.

David said: “It has been a lovely time for all of us to talk to Paul and Malcolm and share our experiences.”

Although sad at being out of touch for more than half a century, the twins are delighted to learn about their early years.

Paul said: “Family is so important and we are both so happy to have found out about our relatives here in Lowestoft and in Essex. Everyone we have met in Lowestoft has been so kind and it has been a real pleasure to be able to come and visit.”

Malcolm agreed and encouraged anyone in a similar situation to find out about their family.

“There was always something missing from our lives until we found out about our early years and our family in Suffolk and Essex,” he said.

“Finding our relatives here has marked a closure on that uncertainty and opened up a whole new beginning.”

The Garner family may be separated by the miles but are determined they will never lose touch again.

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