AUSTRALIAN born John Davis (60) met the Spalding brothers he never knew he had after a 53-year quest to find his dad, Navy veteran Leonard Aylett, ended with a beer at his graveside.
His search ended in sadness and joy when an Australian friend told him four weeks ago that his father died aged 81 in 2006 – and broke the news that John had five brothers.
Sadly it turned out the eldest Aylett brother, also Leonard, died aged 49 the same year as his father.
Brothers Steve (52), Eddy (49) and Alan (43) live in Spalding – and Paul (50), who suffers from a long-term illness, lives in Doncaster.
John’s search was tough because his late mum, Gwen Doyle, never spoke about the man she was engaged to in 1950.
The couple broke off their relationship a fortnight before John (60) was born.
There was a family secret in Spalding too with a rumour in Leonard’s family that he had a son on the far side of the world.
Alan, who lives in The Square, said: “I mentioned it once. He didn’t want to talk about it. I don’t know why he was like that, he just didn’t further it any more.”
Eddy had dismissed the rumour but it was confirmed four weeks ago when John’s granddaughter, Jonna, contacted him on Facebook.
The brothers talked on the phone a couple of times and met for the first time on Thursday at Peterborough railway station.
Eddy, who lives in Spring Gardens, said: “I was pleased because I had heard a rumour and I was a bit upset because if I had got a half-brother I should know him.”
John, Steve, Alan and Eddy have enjoyed a few days together, swapping stories, drinking beers and holding a family party for 12 at a restaurant on Tuesday night before John flew back to Perth yesterday.
Eddy plans to fly out to see John this summer.
There was a poignant moment for John as his long cherished dream of having a beer with his dad happened at his grave.
John said it was strange because the name on the next headstone was his own, Davis.
John is not interested in finding out why his parents separated – all he ever wanted to do was find his dad.
He said: “It’s like it’s closure for me and that’s where we are.”
His mum wouldn’t talk about Leonard and John’s first breakthrough in tracing him came five years ago when a former British policeman joined his company. The policeman traced Leonard’s birth certificate.
He left the company and the search went cold but then a few weeks ago John was given more help by the wife of an Australian senator friend.
John said: “I did ask my mother one time. She didn’t realise that I knew anything about him. She just burst into tears and walked out.
“I know that she really loved him because she wore his engagement ring for seven years.”
l John came to Britain with Australian senator Glenn Sterle and celebrated Australia Day last Wednesday at a reception attended by Prince Charles and The Duchess of Cornwall at Australia House in London.
l Turn to page 3 for more.