The West

Brothers reunited 70 years on
Brian Walsh was reunited with his long lost brother Kevin Walsh. Picture: Michael Wilson/The West Australian

Brian and Kevin grew up in the same State sharing a mother, the surname Walsh and a family resemblance.

But until last month the half-brothers had never met or exchanged so much as a word.

Put into care at a young age, the pair, six years apart, led different lives for nearly seven decades and might have gone on doing so were it not for some curious children and a little online detective work.

The story of their reunion began late last year when Brian's granddaughter received a message out of the blue from someone trying to track down members of the Walsh family via an ancestry website on behalf of a Victorian man who had grown up in Perth.

"Kevin was trying to find out things and he found out he had me," Brian said. News of a long-lost brother did not come as a complete surprise to Brian: he had been in semi-regular contact with his mother before her death, who told him of Kevin's existence.

"Mum told me about Kevin but she hushed away from it, if that's the word," he said. "She didn't want to talk about it."

For Kevin, the story was a little different: he had no idea he had a brother when he moved to Victoria at age 18 and made himself a life that included a wife and kids. He had no interest in trying to track down distant family members but his children, who wanted desperately to know where he came from, were not so patient. Eventually they badgered him into doing it and an online search began.

He said the moment he learnt of a half-brother was "a surprising one". That was not the only revelation: he also had a half-sister Mavis, who had stayed with their mother and with whom Brian had made contact years earlier.

After a phone call and photo exchange, Kevin flew to Perth. He and Brian visited the boys' home where Kevin had grown up and Brian introduced him to other members of the family, not just his half-sister but relatives of their late mother, something Brian never expected.

The reunion was not all smiles: Kevin still carried scars from a childhood without his family and his brother tried to help.

"I said the past is the past," Brian said. "He was just like me when I first met Mum."

Kevin has since returned home to Melbourne but the brothers have stayed in contact. When Brian's 70th birthday rolls around next Monday, Kevin will pick up the phone to wish his brother happy birthday for the first time.

"But it's too early to give him a present yet," he said with a laugh.

The West Australian

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