Family reunited with cherished childhood photo album after it turned up at car boot sale decades later
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Maureen Wells, Margaret Green and their brother Mark Harris often wondered what happened to the beautifully embossed book which was filled with memories of their childhood in Hebburn.
Precious scenes such as Maureen’s holy communion were among the pictures they thought they would never set eyes on again.
The album also included photos of the sisters enjoying life in post-war Britain.
They believed it had been lost forever during a house move but decades later, the album unexpectedly turned up at a car boot sale in Chester-le-Street in February this year.
It was believed to be destined for landfill if no buyer could be found.
By complete chance, Paul Dix, from South Shields, was there on the day of the sale and recognised some of the sights in the photos.
Paul bought the album and decided it was too beautiful to ditch. Instead, he began a quest on social media to find the rightful owners.
Five months later, Maureen and Margaret, both nee Harris, were traced when friends from their past got in touch and they were ‘absolutely over the moon,’ said Paul, from Tyne Dock.
Maureen, now 76, said ‘words could not describe’ how she and the rest of the family were feeling about the album being saved.
"I remember that I loved the album cover when I was little. The album was very personal and it was a lot of heritage. We are delighted that it has been found.
"We can not thank Paul enough as he has done so much work to find us. He was quite a detective!”
She remembered receiving word that an Egyptian photo album had been found and said: “I thought ‘yep that’s ours’.”
She said the album was the most treasured item in the family home as it held their memories of their mam and dad as well as family events.
"It was an essential part of the family and I suspect it is 20 years, probably more, since we last saw it.”
The quest has also led to the family speaking with friends they had not heard from in many years – and they were friends who were also determined to help the efforts to get the album back to its owners.
Paul said it was a ‘large vintage photo album embossed with Egyptian imagery.
"it contained many wonderful photos of a mother and father with their two children, which I firmly believed was a North East family.”
Paul shared the photos on a Facebook page called Fietscher Fotos of South Shields & surrounding areas.
The public interest in the story rocketed and members of the group helped Paul to track down the family after spotting the name Harris on the back of one photo.
Maureen, who last lived in Hebburn 60 years ago, is a former teacher. Margaret, now 78, is also a former teacher who lives in Tenerife. Mark, who is 70, has worked with the Catholic international development charity Cathod and is living in Washington.
They are expected to be reunited with the album this weekend – thanks to Paul and the people of the North East who went to such lengths to help.