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Couple fly from Australia to meet long-lost relatives in Leeds

Geoff Nicholson and his long-lost sister Sue.
Geoff Nicholson and his long-lost sister Sue.

When Margaret and Geoff Nicholson landed at Manchester Airport, the reception that welcomed them was like no other.

The pair had travelled more than 10,000 miles from their home in Ballarat, Australia to meet long-lost brothers and sisters of 75-year-old Mr Nicholson, that until last year they had no idea even existed.

Geoff's mother Agnes Exley. Picture supplied by his family.

Geoff's mother Agnes Exley. Picture supplied by his family.

Waiting for them at the terminal was his new-found sister Susan and her family, all wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the couple's faces and the words 'Margaret and Geoff's Tour 2018'.

Since the warm welcome on June 11, the couple have been trying to meet as many of their 40 plus relatives, most of whom live in Leeds, as they can, before their return Down Under next month.

Mr Nicholson said: "It was magical seeing them for the first time. It was unbelievable. There were a lot of tears and hugging."

Mrs Nicholson, 68, added: "They have all accepted us into the family. They have been so friendly and welcoming and have bent over backwards for us. We just wanted to meet them, to hug them and kiss them, to just seem them."

Mr Nicholson, from Huddersfield, had no contact with his mother Agnes Exley, since his parents divorced when he was five.

He grew up with his father Reginald Nicholson and later his stepmum Elsie and stepsister June, but did not have even a single photograph of his birth mum to remember her by.

At the age of 24, he took up a fixed term contract to work on the tramways in Australia, but after meeting his wife-to-be, he never returned.

Whilst thoughts about the life of his birth mum often crossed his mind, it wasn't until the death of his father in 2016, that the pair began seriously searching for her.

Mrs Nicholson said: "Geoff and I used used to watch Long Lost Families and every time he would watch it, I could always tell he was terribly upset because he would be so happy for everybody who had found their siblings or parents and I knew inside that he really wanted to find his mother.

"His mum and dad divorced in 1947 and we were never allowed to mention her name.

"I went on the internet and did some detective work after his father passed away. I put her name in on ancestry.com and there she was - it showed the family tree."

Through their research last July, the couple, who have been married for 50 years, discovered Mr Nicholson's mother had passed away.

But they made contact with a name given with the tree, a long-lost relative, and were shocked to find she had remarried an Edward Morris and had gone on to have five more children.

Mr and Mrs Nicholson were put in touch with more of their newfound relatives and by September, after just a month of chatting online, they had booked flights to the UK to finally meet them.

The couple, who have been staying in Yeadon, have also paid a visit to see the house Mr Nicholson's mother lived in at Snowden Royd in Bramley.

Mr Nicholson said: "I certainly used to think about my mum and what had happened to her and who she was. I didn't have any photos of her or anything, nothing to remember her by.

"We only got to see a picture of her when we found my relatives. It was so nice to see her, but I wish she could have been here with me.

He added: "Meeting my long-lost family has been incredibly overwhelming. It means the world."