Ken Copeland, a Barnados child, with his wife Marilyn at their Wollongbar home.
Ken Copeland, a Barnados child, with his wife Marilyn at their Wollongbar home.

Orphan's family reunion

AFTER being an orphan for almost 50 years of his life, a family reunion always seemed impossible for Wollongbar man Ken Copeland.

But the 69-year-old has just returned from his first family reunion of nine cousins and his mother in Manchester, England.

Finding his family had been a long battle.

Born in England, Mr Copeland spent his young life in institutions after his mother gave him up when he was 18 months old.

When he was 10 Barnados put him on a ship with 40 other boys and they were sent to Australia.

“We had no idea where we were going,” Mr Copeland said.

“But we thought it was heaven – they looked after us well and we ate like kings.”

Mr Copeland arrived in Australia in May 1952 and made the most of his new life. He trained to become a glazier, married his wife, Marilyn, and they had four children together.

Despite repeated attempts to track down members of his family in England, he never had any luck,until one day in 1991 when the Salvation Army told him they had found his mother.

“All this time I believed I was an orphan,” Mr Copeland said.

“That’s what they told us; we had no reason to think otherwise.

“Then suddenly, I’m almost 50 years old, and I’m told, ‘yes, you’ve got a mother’.”

So Mr and Mrs Copeland went to England.

That was 20 years ago.

Since then, he has been able to track down other family members, including several cousins.

A decision was made to have afamily reunion – the first one ever – and it was held in Manchester just a few weeks ago.

“It was really great. Some of the cousins had never met each other before; others hadn’t seen eachother since they were kids,” MrCopeland said.

“A reunion was something that I thought was impossible.

“One of my cousins told me how much it meant to him to know that he had a family now; he’s got a new outlook on life.

“I feel pretty lucky.

“Suddenly, from having no family, I have all of this.

“I’ve got a mother, my cousins, four of my own kids and nine grandkids.

“I think I’ve done pretty well.”



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