We will use your email address only for sending you newsletters. Please see ourPrivacy Noticefor details of your data protection rights
Thank you for subscribingWe have more newslettersShow meSee our privacy notice
A Long Eaton man has described his shock at the moment a long-lost relative turned up at his home playing the bagpipes.
Tom Russell of Long Eaton had a Christmas Day he will never forget, when his half nephew flew in all the way from Canada to surprise him.
The 74-year-old told Derbyshire Live he began researching his family tree after he retired in 2010.
After finding a distant relative through Facebook, he had no idea of what lay in store.
He said: “Over the years I was successful in finding most of my relatives in the UK, Ireland and Italy, with the help of family members and, of course, the Internet.
“The one missing part was my father’s family, and all I had was the fact he was in the Canadian army during WW2, and based in England.”
The former Royal Mail worker said his father Thomas Hutchinson, who was his half nephew’s grandfather, fought in both world wars.
Mr Hutchinson had moved to Canada from Dundee after the end of the First World War before returning to Britain close to the start of the Second World War.
After Mr Russell was born, his father was unable to take him back to Canada and after his mother lost her job, he was adopted in Britain.
With the help of his daughter, Mr Russell managed to use Facebook to make contact with someone in Canada using his father’s military rank of Regimental Sergeant Major.
Through “discreet enquiries” to the contact – who was in fact his half nephew Brian Hutchinson – he found “various small details and dates (about his father) matched”.
Mr Russell added: “As the contact was now very intrigued, I revealed the reason for my veiled questioning, at which point he became very excited as he had for some years thought there was something he didn’t know.
“We investigated further to the point we did a DNA test which proved a perfect match.”
But for Mr Russell, the “biggest shock” was yet to come.
On Christmas Day 2019, Mr Russell’s half nephew, Brian Hutchinson, now in his 60s, turn up outside his front door playing the bagpipes, having flown in overnight from Toronto.
The pair then celebrated New Year’s Eve together before Mr Hutchinson went off to visit different areas in England, including Nottingham and York. Before heading home to Woodstock, Ontario, he is planning to visit London.
Watching the “accomplished” bagpipe player arrive was almost too much for Mr Russell who said he “virtually collapsed in a heap”.
“I’m still very emotional about it,” he said. “The rest of the family were in on it whilst I was kept in the dark like a mushroom.”