There wasn’t a dry eye in the restaurant when the 57-year-old brother of two Lincolnshire sisters travelled across the world to meet them for the first time.
Adopted at birth, Michael Bulpit from Australia walked into the bar at Sycamore Lakes in Burgh le Marsh to celebrate “the final piece of the jigsaw” after waiting 15 years for this moment.
Sisters Anita Sorrell and Tracey Proctor flung their arms around him in an emotional reunion before introducing him to the rest of the family, who had gathered from the Boston and Skegness area.
“He looks so much like my son,” exclaimed Anita, 55. “Words can’t express how I feel right now.”
Watching over them was their Auntie Ruth - the only member of the family who knew the secret and had kept it as she had promised until the death of their mother, Brenda Green of Skegness, three years ago.
In a different era, Brenda was sent to the Isle of Wight to have her baby and cared for him for just six weeks until he was adopted by a couple from Portsmouth.
Finding a new expansion to my family at this stage of my life is so nice. I’m sure our mum is up there smiling down at usBrother Michael Bulpit
Michael and his adoptive family moved to New Zealand and his career as a banker eventually took him to Australia. He now lives with his partner in Brisbane.
“I had wonderful adoptive parents - my brother was adopted too and we were so lucky. When we were old enough they told us we were adopted and when they died an Anglican minister we knew said he had a friend in Lincolnshire and said he would see what he could find out.
“That’s how we found mum’s sister, Ruth Roy, and in 2008 and I was able to speak to her and my mum on the phone.
“Mum told me that a day never passed when she didn’t think about me. But when we made the first trip to England she struggled to find the courage to meet me - she couldn’t bear to say goodbye to me again.”
Michael respected her wishes not to contact his sisters - but did get to meet his mum before she died.
“It was amazing when she walked into the room,” he said. “She said to me she had been worried in case I didn’t like her but I said ‘How can I not like the woman who gave birth to me?’. The hurt she had carried inside all of those years must have been unbelievable.”
During all of this time, Auntie Ruth kept Michael a secret from Anita and Tracey, until their mother died.
Ruth said: “It was different times back then and I remember Brenda being told to ‘get up them stairs’ if anyone came round just before she went to the Isle of Wight to have the baby.
“When I found out about Michael, I just had to put it out of my mind until their mother died - and the very next day I asked Anita and Tracey to come and see me.”
Anita recalls: “We wondered what she was going to say - we used to joke that Ruth was our mum because we spent so much time with her growing up. We thought she was going to tell us that was true.
“We never expected she was going to tell us we had a half-brother. We got to speak to him on the phone and my son went over to stay, Finally meeting him is so special.”
Tracey, 53, said: “It was such a shock. I never thought this day would come and we would finally be together after all these years.”
Michael concluded: “Finding a new expansion to my family at this stage of my life is so nice. I’m sure our mum is up there smiling down at us.”