A Bexhill grandmother who suddenly discovered she had nine brothers and sisters living in America has celebrated her birthday with two of them for the first time.
Anne Warren, 68 yesterday (September 18), enjoyed her special day with Sarah Muller and Amy Poole, part of the huge family she never knew she had.
The two sisters arrived at Heathrow last Thursday and have been staying with her during the week which included a trip to Dorset and ladies-only jaunt to London.
Both are younger than Anne’s own children and part of family history which lay undiscovered until after her mother’s death in 2008.
Anne’s mum was Joyce Turner, a member of the ATS during the war who married GI George Brayman in 1945. The couple had little time together because, before Anne was born, George was sent over to France. Joyce was planning to go to the States to join him as planned after the war but when he returned he wrote to say he did not want this to happen.
Joyce stayed put but didn’t divorce George until 1951, then she met and married the man who Anne thought of as her dad, and the family settled in East London where Anne and her younger brother grew up.
Anne commented: “Part of me thinks he did my mum the biggest favour of her life. But it was many years ago.”
Anne often thought about her natural father and wondered where he was but it was not until her mother died and she checked through papers that she found out more details about him. She soon traced him and found he had died just six weeks after her mother but that he had left behind two other families.
“I saw I had a few siblings. He went on to have five children with one lady, and then he married another and had four children with her.
“So I was one of ten children. Because of all the upset of him passing away I didn’t want to make contact with his then wife - I thought me coming on too soon would be a real shock and upsetting so I waited a whole year. Then I spoke to her, and found that he had never mentioned me, so I had to tell her he was married to my mother - she never knew.
“Then she told me about her children, and I made contact, and they got in touch and it has snowballed from there.”
Anne and husband John visited the States for a family party at Lake George and last year went to Lake Tahoe for another, both family birthdays which were major celebrations, and included wider family members such as nieces and nephews.
“It is a lovely story,” she commented. “They have welcomed me with open arms. It is so lovely, they are so friendly and want to be in contact and be together. It is so special, I love it, they have all been so accepting.”