Brotherly love brings family together after 30 years apart

John Cruickshank, centre, used the internet to track down his long-lost siblings and their families for the get-together
John Cruickshank, centre, used the internet to track down his long-lost siblings and their families for the get-together
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ALMOST three decades had passed since they were all last together in the same room.

But thanks to Facebook and Friends Reunited, and a bit of detective work, one man has managed to trace nine of his long-lost siblings, who had “drifted apart”.

John Cruickshank, 60, is one of a dozen brothers and sisters who grew up in Saughton Mains Drive.

But the family grew apart after they moved out of their parents’ home, and the siblings all lost touch, until now.

Mr Cruickshank decided to try to reunite his nine brothers and three sisters, and succeeded in getting most of them together for the first time in almost 30 years in Edinburgh on Saturday.

The brood includes John, Marilyn, James, Shirley, Fiona, Andrew, Alan, George, Charles, plus David and Stewart, who haven’t been found. Another brother, William, has passed away.

John, a farm worker, who lives in Lockerbie, trawled the internet, searched directory enquiries and electoral rolls and used word of mouth to track down his siblings.

He even found out where one of his brothers’ favourite watering holes was in order to find him.

Mr Cruickshank said the big meeting had started as a “crying game” but that it had gone very well. He said: “Everybody who said they were coming showed up. My brother Alan came up from England. My sister Marilyn, who came all the way from Tasmania, was very emotional. We all were at first, there were tears everywhere, then we wiped out eyes and had a good, old knees-up.

“We’ll be seeing each other again. We’re hoping to get together for New Year’s Eve.”

Talking of the reason they hadn’t seen each other for so long, Mr Cruickshank said: “We just drifted apart.

“We all got married and went our separate ways.

“They were pretty shocked when I got in touch with them.

“A lot of them have not changed.”

Most of the Cruickshank siblings actually still live in Edinburgh, with only himself, Marilyn and Alan having ever moved away from the Capital.

Mr Cruickshank first began thinking of reuniting his siblings about two years ago, when he got a message on Friends Reunited from Marilyn.

He said: “I got an email asking for my details and whether I was the John Cruickshank who grew up in Saughton with 11 other brothers and sisters.

“I sent a message back saying yes and she said ‘I’m your big sister’.

“It had been 27 years since I’d last seen Marilyn and I went out to see her two years ago and we were reunited.”

Since then, Mr Cruickshank has been painstakingly tracking down the rest of his siblings, culminating in Saturday’s long-overdue rendezvous.

It was timed to coincide with Marilyn’s visit from Australia, though she had no idea the trip would see her reunited with all her long-lost siblings.

The family reunion also gave the siblings the chance to meet nieces and nephews they had never met before.

Mr Cruickshank’s daughter, Heather Carbray, 38, had only met a couple of her aunts and uncles prior to the reunion on Saturday.

One of three daughters, she said she found her father’s situation “bizarre” but was happy he had managed to track his family down.

Mrs Carbray, who lives in East Calder, said: “I find it strange because I know my sisters very well, but my dad’s siblings have all grown apart and have not seen each other in a long, long time.

“I can’t ever imagine my life without my sisters being in it and I can’t believe he has such a big family and they haven’t kept in touch.”

gfraser@edinburghnews.com