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Widow discovers long-lost family after stranger bought her grandad’s war medals online

Widow, 65, discovers long-lost family she never knew existed after stranger contacted her online to tell her he had purchased her grandfather’s WWI medals on eBay

  • Jocelyn Trent, 65, had no idea grandfather Charles Sharman served in WWI  
  • Widow was ‘delighted’ to discover members of her family she never knew about 
  • Adam Simpson-York buys medals online to reunite them with family members 

A widow has discovered a long-lost family she never knew she had thanks to a stranger who reached out after buying her grandad’s war medals on eBay.

Jocelyn Trent, 65, thought her only remaining family was her 39-year-old daughter following her husband’s death 22 years ago.

But she has now discovered 22 second cousins she knew nothing about thanks to Adam Simpson-York, who has spent lockdown buying unwanted war medals online and then reuniting them with their families.

Before his message Jocelyn had no clue her grandfather, Charles Leonard Sharman, had served in the Royal Garrison Artillery during the First World War.

Jocelyn Trent, 65, says she has ‘gained a new family in 24 hours’ after being contacted by Adam Simpson-York, who bought war medals awarded to her grandfather Charles Sharman

Charles Leonard Sharman had served in the Royal Garrison Artillery during the First World War but granddaughter Jocylyn had no idea about the other members of her own family

Charles Leonard Sharman had served in the Royal Garrison Artillery during the First World War but granddaughter Jocylyn had no idea about the other members of her own family 

He has now sent the medals to her so she can keep them as family heirlooms.

Jocelyn, a social worker from Peterborough, Cambs, said: ‘It’s like I gained a new family in the space of 24 hours.

‘What Adam did was absolutely incredible, he went through so many stages of research to contact me, and was able to tell me things I never knew about my own family.

‘All I knew about my grandad was that he had lived in Doncaster and worked on the railroad for 40 years.

‘And then to find out I have 22 second cousins that I never knew about – it’s been an overwhelming experience.’

Jocelyn nearly missed out on finding out about her living family members, some of whom live close by, as she ignored Adam’s initial attempt to contact her on Facebook.

Adam Simpson-York bought the pair for £35 on eBay and has spent lockdown reuniting medals with their owners

Adam Simpson-York bought the pair for £35 on eBay and has spent lockdown reuniting medals with their owners

Luckily his persistence paid off and she now plans on meeting them all in person once safe to do so.

She added: ‘When I read his message and saw what he had said about the medals I couldn’t relate to it, because I didn’t know my grandad, and didn’t know he had served in World War One.

‘But I thought, ‘what have I got to lose?’ He had also asked me if I was Jocelyn Bailey – which is my maiden name that I haven’t used for 44 years – and if my parents were Norman and Betty Bailey.

‘I’m going to hold these medals close to me for the rest of my life. It’s unbelievable.’

Adam, a postman from Ipswich, Suffolk bought the gongs, a service medal and a victory medal, on eBay for £35.

The 35-year-old has now set up a Facebook page, Medals Going Home, to document his work.

He said: ‘It’s been really nice speaking to Jocelyn about all this – her excitement and enthusiasm really rubs off on you.

‘I’ve been doing this for a little while now – I’ve been really interested in family trees for about eight or nine years, ever since I put my own family tree together.

‘It’s nerve-wracking at first, because you’re not sure how people are going to react – not everybody wants to know, and some people don’t believe what I’m telling them.

‘But I was very lucky that Jocelyn trusted what I was talking about. My main aim is always to reunite these medals with their families.

‘They may not cost me very much to buy, but for the people who can get them back, like Jocelyn, they’re worth a lot more.’

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