Willesden author tells of friends reunited

Monica Porter discusses her new book

A JOURNALIST who has spent the past decade reuniting people with their long lost loved ones has brought out a book about her reunion tales.

Monica Porter, who lives in Deerhurst Road, Willesden, has spent the past decade penning the popular Missing and Found column in the Daily Mail, which features the stories of people who are trying to trace old friends or relatives they have lost touch with over the years.

Since the column launched in 1999, Ms Porter has recounted poignant tales of how she has brought together wartime comrades, old schoolmates and estranged siblings.

The book includes many of the more memorable stories which have been featured, and takes a look at the now burgeoning reunion industry – led by websites including Friends Reunited.

“At the time the column was launched it was groundbreaking, a real trailblazer in the industry”, Ms Porter explains, “The book reflects on how that came about.

“The column is really popular as it is evokes the readers’ memories of their own from these different periods. It includes every type of story from the quirky to the poignant, and to the tragic, and that is what keeps it interesting.”

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The reunion industry, as Ms Porter calls it, is something she fell into when she was working on the Mail’s features desk, after a reader got in touch with the paper to tell them about a couple in Anglesey, Wales, who had started helping members of their community get back in touch with friends and relatives.

The couple decided to team up with the Mail to broaden their reach, and the column was born.

Among those she helped reunite was Kilburn raised Screaming Lord Sutch, the infamous founder over the anti establishment Official Monster Raving Loony Party, and his former bandmates from Screaming Lord Sutch and the Savages.

“He was old mates with these guys back in the 60’s and they used to go on rock and roll tours together. This was years before he went into politics”, Ms Porter said.

“They hadn’t seen each in years – funnily enough I’m not sure if they were party supporters.”

While many stories are memorable, some in particular stand out.

Ms Porter said: “I was able to bring back together an English soldier who had worked as a guard at a prisoner of war camp, with a German prisoner he had befriended.

“The German had tried to teach the English soldier some German they got friendly for a while. After the war they lost touch, but the soldier had never forgotten him.

“It was a very poignant story about friendship forged from opposite sides of the war that have lasted for years.”

Long Lost, The Story of the Newspaper Column that Started a Reunion Industry, by Monica Porter is out now. 2She is giving a talk at Willessden Library on January 27.

For more information visit www.monicaporter.co.uk