A brother and sister have finally been reunited following 54 years apart – after an old photograph was posted on Facebook.
Stunned Dennis Whiting, 81, and younger sister Berry Glenville, 79, discovered they had been living just ten miles away from each other for the last 22 years.
Dennis and Betty Glenville, 79, last saw each other in 1963 – the same year as The Great Train Robbery and assassination of John F. Kennedy.
The siblings first lost touch after their mother died 54 years ago when Dennis was working as a trawler skipper on a fishing boat, where he would spend weeks at sea.
The pair eventually lost contact altogether when Betty, from Hull, East Yorks., married a soldier and moved to Ireland, Africa and then Germany. Both assumed the other had died.
For the past 22 years, Betty has lived in Hedon and Dennis has lived in west Hull – just 10 miles apart.
They were reunited when Dennis’s daughter Janet Thompson snapped a photo of her dad proudly posing alongside a Hull fishing memorial.
She merged the photo with one of him stood next to the same memorial taken when he was 24-years-old and uploaded it to a local history page on Facebook.
Mum-of-three Janet, from Hessle, East Yorks., says she was shocked to receive a message from Betty’s niece Elaine, who had stumbled across the photo, telling her they were cousins.
The cousins arranged for their parents, Dennis and Betty, to be reunited for the first time since 1963 – when Dennis was 27 and Betty, 25.
Janet said: “My Dad was one of four siblings, a brother and two sisters. They lost contact after their mum died 54 years ago.
“My Dad assumed all of his siblings were dead. He and his youngest sister Betty were the closest growing up, with only two years between them.
“She lived in Kenya when their mum died and by the time she came home my dad had moved house and his telephone was always ex-directory.
“When Betty was shown the photograph of her 81-year-old brother she said it wasn’t him, but shown the photograph of him aged 24, she knew it was.
“She used to knit all of his jumpers for sea.”
Dennis’ daughter, two granddaughters and Betty’s daughter and niece met up at the Village Hotel in west Hull.
They have since met again for lunch with more family members and spent hours talking to each other on the phone.
Dennis said: “I am amazed how this has happened. I thought she was dead and she thought I was dead.
“I couldn’t believe how much she was like our mother. She’s a lot fitter than I am and could remember a lot from when we were younger.
“I was just so surprised, it’s unbelievable. I’m so pleased.
“When I went to pick her up I put her address in my sat nav and it’s exactly 10 miles between us and we never knew.”
He added: “After my mother died I had a bit of an argument with my eldest sister and we fell out.
“When Betty was about 19 years old she went to live with her and moved to London so we didn’t talk as much. We just then lost touch when she married and moved aboard.
“I do feel sad for all those missed years, but I don’t suspect we would have seen each other that much because she moved about all over the world because her husband is in the army and I was at sea from the age of 16 until I retired at 66.
“When her husband died she tried to contact me but I’m ex-directory.”
Betty married a serviceman and moved to Ireland, Kenya and Germany but when her husband retired from the army the pair moved to Harrogate, North Yorks.
The pensioner then moved to Hedon in west Hull 22 years ago when her husband died – just 10 miles away from Dennis who lived in Anlaby Park Road South.
It’s not just Dennis and Betty who have found each other, but also the extended family who had never met, says Janet.
“Growing up all I ever wanted was a cousin, I didn’t have any on my Mum’s side as she was an only one. Turns out I have 10, but one has sadly died,” she added.
“In this day and age when all you read about is doom and gloom it’s nice to share a happy story.”