Joy as old photo finds its way home

Sylvia Thompson with grandchildren Jack and Katie.
Sylvia Thompson with grandchildren Jack and Katie.

THREE generations of wedding photographs now take pride of place on Sylvia Thompson’s mantelpiece after a picture of her late parents’ big day made a journey of hundreds of miles to be reunited with their daughter.

Sylvia, 68, had feared the photograph of her dad Thomas Gurr and mum Ethel, taken on the day of their marriage at the former Stead Memorial Congregational Church in Willington Quay in 1943, had been lost for ever.

However, she had not counted on a shopper finding it in the backing of a photo frame she picked up in a charity chop in Budleigh Salterton, Devon, and sending it on a 300-mile journey north to the News Guardian.

After putting out an appeal for relatives to pass the photo on to, we received several phone calls, including one from a bridesmaid of the couple, other relatives and fellow members of the Wallsend Slipway Operatic Society.

We were told Mr and Mrs Gurr had moved away from the north east many years ago and that they had a daughter, Sylvia.

It was not until the couple’s niece, Glenice Heath, of Holystone, was shown a cutting of the story that we were able to track Sylvia down to Exmouth, Devon, after spending 43 years in Berkshire, however.

Sylvia, married to George, 71, recalls the picture always being on display on a sideboard in her parents home in High Howdon.

“It was part of the furniture,” said the grandmother of Katie, five and Jack, two.

“I couldn’t understand how it had vanished, but we had moved house a couple of times. It’s amazing how things turn up.

“What I reckon happened is my mum ended up in a nursing home in Budleigh Salterton, which was where the lady found it.

“My dad was very fond of putting other photos in front of things, which is what he’s done here probably. The home she was in didn’t give me all her belongings. They must have just sent them to a charity shop, where the lady found it.

“Thank goodness she opened it up. I’ve got it now on a shelf next to my wedding photograph and my daughter’s, so we have three generations together, which is lovely.”

Mr and Mrs Gurr first met when they lived next door to each other at Holy Cross while in their early teens.

They went on to work together at Wallsend Slipway shipyard, which could explain an invitation found with the photograph, to the launch of the Ark Royal at the nearby Swan Hunter shipyard in 1981.

In the mid-1980s the couple moved to Ascot, Berkshire, to be close to Sylvia, George, and their children Mark, now 39, and Caroline Fegan, 36.