A family has been reunited after five decades – thanks to the search for the owner of a war medal found in a canal.
Bill Clarke, aged 78, of Springfield Road, Wickersley, Rotherham, had not been in touch with his uncle Harry Whatley or cousins Kevin Whatley and Terry Hardy for ‘about 50 years’.
But the family were reunited after responding to an article in The Star about the medal being found in Aldwarke Lock on the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation near Rotherham.
The Victory Medal, inscribed with the name W Clarke, was recovered by the Canals & River Trust.
Both sides of the family independently got in touch to see if the medal belonged to their shared grandfather William Clarke – and the trust put them back in touch with one another.
Judy Jones, trust heritage advisor, said: “After making the appeal I was contacted by more than a dozen people with various bits of information, but sadly none of them seemed to relate to the William Clarke I’m looking for.
“However it struck me that two of the people who got in touch were saying very similar things about their grandad, a different William Clarke, yet they didn’t appear to know about each other.
“It was only after making tentative enquiries that we discovered the family didn’t know about their grandad’s first son and therefore didn’t realise there was another cousin, Bill Clarke.
“It’s an amazing story and I’m pleased we’ve been able to put the family back in touch.”
Bill said he knew he had cousins, but they were not familiar with him, and had not properly spoken for about 50 years.
Since getting back in touch they regularly meet for coffee and talk about their grandad – who they are still trying to find out about.
He said: “I enjoyed seeing them again. They didn’t know what I looked like!
“I can’t even think about how long it had been. I used to go to Rotherham to see their mother and father. It must be about 50 years.
“We meet up for coffee and talk about our grandfather, but we still don’t know where he served.
“We think he went to Belgium, but it’s still a mystery.”