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Woman in search of photo of her sibling with West Norfolk links

A woman is desperate to find a photo of a half-brother she knows had strong links with West Norfolk and whom she never met.

Mary Keep, 80, of Epsom, Surrey, says she would die happy if she at last saw the face of John Thomas Hildreth, the sibling she never even knew existed until a few years ago.

Sadly, he has since passed away so a photo to see what he looked like is now her life's mission.

John was born in May 1924 to Kate Matilda Hildreth, known also as Kit, who is Mary's mother too, in Hertfordshire.

Mary Keep is trying to find a picture of her brother John Thomas Hildreth. (52733097)
Mary Keep is trying to find a picture of her brother John Thomas Hildreth. (52733097)

His father was recorded on the birth certificate as 'father unknown', but it seems as if in fact it was her fiance, a Serviceman from Bermuda.

At the direction of her parents Kate, aged 26, was given an ultimatum to give the baby away or to leave home permanently.

She subsequently went to Watford, to an unmarried mothers' home, where John was born in May 1924 at 121 Judd Street, Watford, signed by EW Brown, the registrar.

At that time illegitimacy was highly taboo.

Kate returned home without her first-born child.

But John was never adopted and Mary assumes he stayed at the home in Watford until he was old enough to fend for himself.

Mary didn't know about John until she received notification from Heir Hunters, expert genealogists who find beneficiaries who are left funds in a will.

John had left some money to Mary, but she initially thought it was a hoax but soon discovered she had a brother she never knew about.

She said: "From what I can gather, this was a big secret in the family that nobody ever talked about.

"My mother was engaged to a Bermudian boy and fell pregnant. Nan gave her an ultimatum, adoption or don't come home.

"The name of her fiancée was David and we think he didn't know that she was pregnant, and being in the forces he then returned from England to Bermuda."

Mary and her husband Brian have written to Long Lost Family, the Channel 4 programme a couple of time for help and never had a response so Mary is desperate for some information about John, if anyone knew him and particularly a photograph.

She said: "I didn't know he existed until four years ago, never come across a photo, but I know that he got married in Norfolk.

"I don't know what he looked like and can only assume that he is mixed race.

"He was a sawyer (a woodsman), and married Dorothy Pauline Shinfield in 1950, but they never had any children.

"Her father owned the Nag's Head in Warham, near Wells, and their address was Little London, Northwold.

"I wonder if anyone who lived near the Nag's Head at that time and went in to the pub may know anything or have any records of old landlords.

Mary is also hoping it might jog people's memory if there are any school records and any information is crucial in finding a photo of him.

She said: "I can't give up. I want to know what he looked like and get any information I can about my John."

John died in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in 1995.

If anyone can help with information please contact newsdesk@lynnnews.co.uk and it will be passed on to Mary.

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