Finding missing people
Below is a selection of cases John has voluntarily undertaken.
One successful reunion we are particularly proud of. Tracing a lady not seen by our client since 1966.
She was a UK ex-pat on an extended two months holiday from the USA. She met our client at a local dance-hall, thereafter they spend lots of time together during her visit. On her day of departure, he offered to drive her to Heathrow airport, but due to heavy traffic, there was no time for a proper farewell moment. Nothing – not even a brief kiss – she just rushed into the terminal building. Amazingly our client told us en route to the airport he had called the airline(public call box) twice to advise them he was running late and the captain delayed the aircraft’s departure just for her.
During her holiday, they got on so well they had discussed marriage and for sure, in the meantime keep in touch. Sadly this didn’t happen as they both moved home and of course, things happen when you are young.
However, there was much regret on our client’s part as it was he who failed to answer a letter from her. By then he had found a new girlfriend and saw little point. Now he wanted to apologise and express regret at the terribly traumatic end to their friendship at Heathrow. He still can’t get over the fact a Boeing 707 was sitting on the tarmac waiting just for her.
The only information our client had was that in 1967 she was somewhere in Detroit. She had a fairly common Christian name but a lesser-known surname. But will a 99% chance she married the maiden family name was of no use. Moreover no surviving relative in the UK.
Numerous searches drew blanks. However one day, after months of combing through the Internet a breakthrough came. We noticed that there was one lady with the same name but a hyphenated surname. Sure enough, it turned out to be exactly who we were looking for! Today they are both living alone widow and widower. We are hoping we have done something special for both of them.
John and Libby, thanks very much for the sterling work done on the trace. John and Lorna.
The almost-impossible task of finding “P” from Finland.
“P” arrived in the UK in approximately 1967 to take up a summer job working as a live-in assistant, for a national charity-managed orphanage (Methodist Church).
The information we had to work with was as follow:-
- A Christian name, which was not her real name. Apparently her work colleagues found it difficult to pronounce her real name so they gave her a more pronounceable ‘Anglicised’ name.
- She originated from Helsinki.
- Her father was British and in WW2 served in the British Army.
That’s it? We had no surname and just a UK “nicknamed” Christian name. We needed to establish a surname as a starting point. Below are details of to the campaign we embarked upon.
We attempted to contact the institution where “P” worked. But, unfortunately, it had closed down in the 1980s. Although they had retained full records going back from day one. But data protection prevented them from disclosing any information to us.
Next, we tried various UK Forums related to her ex-employer. However, unfortunately, nobody recalled the name. We tried local forums in the surrounding areas-zilch!
We thought we might try the Electoral roll. But of course, “P” would not have qualified as she was an overseas visitor. So we hit yet another dead end. The Finland Embassy in London wouldn’t so much as even acknowledge the four emails we sent them! So we still had no leads.
We then connected with a few forums in Helsinki, Finland. Explained that our client (an elderly UK gentleman) who was seeking to respectfully reunite with an old sweetheart.
We received a few replies but understandably they were not very impressed that we possessed neither a surname nor indeed the correct Christian name. The only clear information we had at this stage was approximate dates and the location where “P” worked. Still no tangible leads.
Our next initiative was a bit more unorthodox. We advertised for paid freelancers in Finland to work on Press media, radio, etc. The story we pitched evoked the memories of the magical 1960s – Woodstock, Flower Power, Glastonbury, swinging London. We also included the story of an elderly gentleman who simply had it in his heart to say hello to and thank “P” from Finland for such fond memories.
Eureka! A national newspaper took up the story and it resulted in us finding “P” – now a 67-year-old mum and gran, still living in Helsinki! I guess the moral of this story is the old adage “money talks”. Having said that, the paid researchers liked the story so much they refused to accept any form of payment. Derek and Paivi are now in regular contact and future visits planned.
Finding childhood mentor and inspiration not seen since 1954.
We were commissioned by our client to help find the woman who was his childhood mentor and inspiration. She was his “Akela” at his local cub’s group. His wish was to simply say thank you for her kindness and to tell her he still thinks of her with great affection, 63 years on.
The information we had to work with was:
- Her full maiden name.
- Her address during that time, roundabout 1953.
- The information that her father was a widely known local businessman.
- She had a younger brother and we had his full name.
This was a great start with much more information than we normally have. Using local Electoral roll archives we were able to find her full name, which included her middle name. Nowadays this would not be an easy task, as many local libraries no longer hold these records. We were even able to source her mum’s maiden name, which would prove helpful later.
We traced both her parent’s place of birth, but alas this was of no help. What we did learn was that both her parents had died in the early 1970s. We then traced a brother showing a listing in St. Neots until 2005, but no listing of him having ever married or any children. We also found no records of “Akela” ever marrying and no links to her mother or father provided any other relatives we could investigate. That effectively meant our search had hit a dead end.
We pressed on and decided to register on a Facebook page relating to the town of her birth. Within an hour we learned she had married a local gentleman around 1961 and later they emigrated to the United States. As we had completed an extensive background search we believed this must be the right person, so we decided to follow this trail.
We then discovered her new surname was not Smith, as we thought it was! Using our sources in the USA we found her listed in St. Louis, Missouri and discovered she had been a professor at a nearby university. We were able to corroborate we had the right person as her husband’s Christian name was a match for what we had and they were both listed as British ex-pats. Unfortunately for us, they both retired in 2005 and moved without a trace. We tried to contact the university but received no answer.
Anyway, we are going to cut this story short. Reading it back It’s beginning to give us a headache, and am sure doing the same for you. Suffice to say they are today in regular contact!
We take pride in the fact that we will never give up searching!
We were tasked to locate a person whom our client had not seen since 1971.
Our client now in his advanced years had never forgotten this individual. He was tremendously grateful for the influence he had on his life. Especially when setting out to becoming an entrepreneur. He reminded our client of the market traders who used to populate ‘Petticoat Lane’ back in the day. Gruffly barking out orders to his underlings and yet behind that rather austere external façade, was a really nice and kind person.
Our client fondly remembered our ‘missing person’ treating him rather like his own son. Teaching him all the tricks of the trade often taking him on ‘new deal’ negotiations. This formidable man also invited our client into his home and introduced him to his family. Here is an abridged version of what the client originally wrote to us:
“In the early 1970s, I worked with XXX. When we met I was a young wet-behind-the-ears aspiring property consultant. I had a newly opened office with a partner. In those days it was known as an accommodation agency. I had no previous experience, as prior to that I was a taxi driver.
At that time, XXX was using another agency to handle his property portfolio but wasn’t too happy with them. To cut a long story short, we got on like a house on fire, although a bit like chalk and cheese. I was quiet and lacking in self-confidence, whereas he was bristling with it and possessed a can-do attitude.
It seemed every few minutes he was doing another deal. I can imagine him if around today, having his mobile phone permanently attached to his ear!
I can say in all honesty, he was one of the most decent and kind individuals I ever met. He wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea with an intimidating bark. But he took to me, I was like his apprentice.
Often he would call me and say “I have a deal in XYZ town want to come along for the ride?” Off we would go in his MGB sports car with the roof down and his trusty smoking pipe firmly gripped between his teeth.
I was also invited a few times to his home where he always seemed to be having tennis lessons in his large garden. Or giving his builder a rollicking! He came to my house as well, and my wife also liked him. Sadly, we lost touch due to my parting company with my business partner. Sometime later I heard he had abruptly moved away, and was now living somewhere on the South Coast. I remember feeling quite sad, as it left a void in my life.
Someone also told me possible hearsay, that business had taken a nasty turn for him! This I couldn’t get my head around as to me he was Superman! Anyway, I am now in my 70’s and have never forgotten this amazing inspirational character. I have attempted on a number of occasions to find him, without success.”
Friends Reconnected was commissioned to take up the challenge of finding him. We were very fortunate to have a full name and a last known location, more than enough information to start a search from. However, sometimes even with this amount of useful information, it can turn out to be of no use at all. It was also brought to our attention that around 1975 our missing gent had left his home plus family and had not been heard of since.
We discovered that back in 1971 our missing person led something of the high-life. A very successful property magnate, he owned a portfolio in excess of 300 houses. His home was in a prestigious location in a very large house with tennis courts and a swimming pool. It is very important when piecing together the probability of “Have we found the right person?” to gather up as much background information as possible, to establish an in-depth profile.
Finding missing people is our mission.
With the information we had gathered we estimated that he was now in his 80’s. He was raised in the East End of London and attended school during the London blitz era. He was an abrasive tough cookie who was intolerant of fools and sloppiness. In many ways he possessed some mannerisms akin to Alan Sugar, he was also Jewish and a natural in business.
The first breakthrough was made when discovering via his local historic Electoral roll that his surname actually had only one “L” instead of two. This minor apparent information was a crucial detail.
Setting off on a route of research, it took us to Stepney and Poplar in the 1930s. Along the way, we discovered his mother maiden name and marriage date in 1926. A mother’s maiden name is highly valuable information for a people finder.
However, all trails seemed to end in the ’70s and ’80s. There was an absolute myriad of obstacles in this case. Ladies marry and of course, surnames are then changed.
There was also divorces and subsequent remarriages and new surnames to contend with. Some were showing on ship passenger listing as emigrating to the USA, Canada and Australia. There were sons and daughters involved (more marriages and more name changes) and all these had to be chased down.
We found ourselves with a dilemma of having fifty other people with the same surname to pursue. Luckily through experience, we were able to substantially reduce the number. However, each one drew a blank.
After extensive enquiries, we discovered that he also had two sons. One born in 1959, the other in 1961. Neither of these showed up on any conventional tracing tools.
We discovered a potential cousin who was living in Israel and this was later confirmed through his ex-wife. However, we were left waiting for a response. We then found an Internet listing in Madrid with a similar name. But it had the addition of an extra element a double-barrelled name. The name was a company he owned but ended in 2011. We followed up the phone number but it was disconnected.
Eventually, we had a success it was him! He had moved on from Spain to We tracked him to the Dominican Republic where sadly he passed away in 2011. Buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave!
Finding missing people a vocational mission.
My wife and I are forever grateful for the splendid effort you put in trying to trace dad. Thanks, mate-you are a star! M. Hyams.
An elderly gentleman age 75 asked us to find his ‘Eileen’ whom he had not seen since 1964.
She was his old-flame, a lost love dating back some 54 years. He had personally tried on numerous occasions to find her but without success. This was primarily due to the absence of remembering her surname.
Upon starting our investigation the only information we had available was:
- Her Christian name.
- The town and road and vague recollection of the house she lived with her parents in 1964.
- She used to work at a local Coop corner store.
- The name of an old friend “Veronica” from Ireland, who lived close-by in Wood Green.
Here is what he gave us.
After a few meeting, my friend who was dating Veronica decided they were not right for us. They were a bit too clingy and not challenging enough for us. In my case, I remember letting her down on a number of occasions. Eventually, one day I just never turned up to meet her. My friend was independently behaving just as erratically with her friend.
Eventually, due to my intransigent attitude, she moved on, as indeed did my friend with Veronica. Some five years later by pure chance, I bumped into her at the corner shop, where she was working. She certainly did not greet me like a long-lost friend (fair enough) and it was very awkward… That was the last time I saw her.
Over the years I had felt so bad for being so rotten and beastly to her. I wanted to say sorry and beg her to forgive me. To tell her what a lovely girl she was, and that I had been a fool to let her go. Moreover, memories of her remained in my heart all those years.
At this point we took the case on.
We began by using Google street view to try and identify the house where she lived. But understandably after all these years, our client wasn’t sure if it was the correct house.
Our client decided he wanted instead to physically the location. To feel and savour the journey to where he thought was her house. A re-run of a journey he made by car many times some 53 years ago.
Having found the house we moved on quite well. We don’t want to bore you with the finer details but it wasn’t easy.
The search took us down a number of false starts. A few of the issues we had to contend with, included incorrect assumptions-poor guesses. Ex-directory numbers, and names withheld from the voter’s list. Our searches took in the length and breadth of the UK, South of France, and ironically back to Muswell Hil. Where in fact we eventually found her now a widow aged 74 and sadly living in a residential care home.
They have rekindled their friendship and our client happily visits her virtually every day. They get on really well! It’s now payback time for his foolish behaviour all those years ago says our client.