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Family united after 70 years
9:54am Thursday 5th December 2013 in News
When his mother fell in love with a Canadian airman and emigrated at the end of the war, Jon Entwistle was left behind in North Yorkshire. This week – at the age of 71 – he has learned the truth about what happened and been introduced to the long-lost sister he did not know he had. KATE LIPTROT reports.
JON Entwistle was a toddler when his mother fell in love and moved to the other side of the world without him.
His father, Arthur, had been posted abroad during the Second World War and his mother Joan had been nursing a Canadian airman recently released from a prisoner of war camp, when they fell in love. She made the remarkable decision to move from Scarborough to his home country at the end of the war.
Brought up by his father and his new wife Irene, Jon had no idea she was not his biological mother until he had grown up.
“I was 18 when I got a phone call from this guy with a Canadian accent saying ‘your mum sends her love’,” Jon said.
But when he asked his dad “nothing was said” on the matter, he recalls.
Some years later his grandmother told him what had happened. But while Jon left the matter and carried on with his life, Joan never forgot her son and urged relatives to look for him.
Their search went on some 30 years until last week when Jon, who lives in Ampleforth, received a life-changing letter from his cousin Glen, who has devoted decades to looking for him from her home in Keighley.
She broke the news that Jon has a half-sister, Christine, in Canada, and of cousins and relations living in Canada and the UK - one of whom was the late and celebrated Canadian artist Frederick Varley.
Using Skype, he has spoken to his sister in her home in Vancouver.
“It’s quite unbelievable really,” Jon said. “I’m just very, very happy.
“Chris was absolutely amazed. She got an email from Glen to say they have found the right Jon. She was so very, very happy.
“It’s quite stunning, my wife is very excited as well. We have got lots of stories to tell.”
He and his wife Ren have made plans to visit her next year.
Sadly, Jon, a retired chef and travel rep, never got to meet his mother as he learned she died in 2004 but he said he sympathised with what happened to her and why his father never spoke about what happened.
“He was very, very hurt I think when mum chose between them when she fell in love with Cyril,” he said.
“My mum was nursing him, she fell head over heels in love and she had to choose. It was a wrench for her, it was a wrench for both of them.”
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