A pensioner has launched an appeal for Wigan residents to help answer his most burning question: “Who was my grandfather?”
Lawrence McGowan, a retired journalist and ex-RAF serviceman from Huntington in Staffordshire, has been on a mission to discover the identity of his maternal grandad, in a search that has lasted almost two decades.
The 77-year-old managed to gleam small details about his grandad from his aunt before she died, such as the fact he lived here in Wigan, but his luck stops there.
He said: “Shortly before she died in 2004, I asked my aunt about the identity of her father.
"She said his surname was Humphreys or Humphries and that he owned a cafe opposite the market in Ashton-in-Makerfield.”
The mystery began following the first world war, after a shell blast at Ypres in 1917 left Lawrence’s grandmother, Edith Moore, widowed with four sons aged from 10 years to 10 months.
She remarried in 1924, but in the intervening years gave birth to daughters, Eva in 1919 and Lawrence’s mother Joan in 1921. Both of them took their mothers’s married surname, creating a dead end in Lawrence’s search.
“I have traced my grandmother’s side of the family as far back as Wales in the mid-1600s and Lancashire in the 1700s,” he said.
“There is a huge gap on my grandad’s side. I know the relationship is, perhaps unusual, but he is my bloodline.
“It would mean a great deal to me to leave as complete a history as possible for my grandchildren to understand their heritage.”
Anyone who thinks they have even the slightest idea about who Lawrence’s Wigan grandad might be can contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org