Everyone’s wondered at some point in their lives whether they’ve had a long lost relative roaming the world somewhere.
But such a thought never becomes a reality, as it did for this army veteran, who offered a homeless man a cigarette, to find out the man was his long-lost brother who he hadn’t seen for almost 30 years.
Roy Aspinall, 36, was leaving a service for Remebrance Sunday when he saw the homeless man and walked over to offer him a cigarette.
He said he felt compelled by ‘something in his features’, which made him curious enough to go over and spark up a conversation, according to Wigan Today.
Roy, who served in the Queens Lancashire Regiment, quickly realised that he was speaking to his long-lost brother who he hadn’t seen since they were both very young children.
Roy last saw his brother Billy White when he was a newborn baby in a pram, but since then has had no contact with the family.
The boys share the same mother, Lorraine White, but Roy was raised by an auntie while Billy stayed with their mum before being taken into care at 10-years of age.
Amazingly, Roy has taken Billy into his home. They now live together and are catching up on 30 years of lost time.
Explaining the strange draw he felt to his brother Billy while leaving the ceremony, Roy said:
I walked through the churchyard to get my bus and I saw this guy sitting on the brick wall.
The recognition of his face was there. I thought I had to see who he was. He had his little bag and sleeping bag.
I went over, offered him a cigarette and starting having a chat. Eventually asked if he was William. He said ‘yes’ but they called him Billy.
I was in tears when we worked it out. I just told him to grab his stuff and said he was coming with me.
Roy can only remember one solo moment when he saw his brother as a young baby at a family member’s house.
Due to tensions within the family, Roy was given to his aunt and was brought up by her.
He’d believed for years that his auntie was in fact his own mother, and took his cousins for siblings.
Billy stayed with his birth mother and was brought up by her until her death when he was ten years old.
After that he moved into the care system and had multiple stints out on the streets, including the last eight months before Roy found him.
Our mum was amazing and the sweetest woman going. I wish Roy could have met her, things could have been different.
Roy also wished he could have met his mother, and laments the fact he never had the opportunity.
Billy says it is pure chance he was sat on the churchyard wall when he bumped into Roy, saying:
I just came to the church yard to sit down before finding somewhere to get my head down.
This guy came over to me and was asking me lots of questions, about my mum and my sister. Then he said I’m your brother. I didn’t believe him at first. It’s mad.
I always knew I had an older brother, my mum explained everything to me.
But I didn’t know anything about him or even if he lived in the same area. I’m still pretty shocked by everything.
Bill’s life is on a safer track now, thanks to the supervision and love given by Roy, and he now has a job with a logistics firm.
He says his life has changed since Roy met him.
Roy, who works as a volunteer for veterans’ support group in Wigan EDs Place (Everyone Deserves Support), said:
We’ve noticed so many similarities. When asked what he wanted he said coffee with milk and two sugars, which is exactly what I have!
To say ‘I’ve got a brother’ is so foreign but it’s a feeling of joy, not tears. He’s never getting rid of me now!
What an incredible story, it just goes to show how you never know who is struggling on the streets, and just how close they might be.