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Long Lost Family

By July 31, 2019 Leeds Community News

A family is reunited as Leeds cousins finally find their cousin in Australia.

Cousins Richard Winston and Paul Dolgin were stunned to hear from a long lost first cousin in Australia, thanks to the power of online genealogy searches.

Michael Cantor, 64, resides near Sydney, and has a story that is all too familiar for those who migrated down under in the mid-20th century. His parents David and Sadie, née Winestein, made the decision to move to the commonwealth of Australia in 1948, in the wake of the Second World War, leaving families in Leeds for a new life and a job in tailoring.

David and Sadie were two of many scores of people who moved to Australia following the war, with more than two million people emigrating around the world from the UK. Such was the scale of population loss that wartime leader Winston Churchill feared those leaving would hamper post-war recovery. Nevertheless, immigration offices from Commonwealth countries sprang up in cities throughout the UK, with Australia, Canada, and New Zealand extolling the benefits of better housing and employment opportunities, as well as offering incentives for an unsurpassed quality of life.

After settling in warmer climes, Michael was born in 1954, but tragedy struck when his father died in 1964 and his mother Sadie was later diagnosed with MS. The heart-breaking decision to place Michael in foster care from the age of 10 until his teenage years meant that Michael’s connection to the UK and to Leeds were all but severed completely.

Richard and Paul are related on the maternal side of Michael’s family through Richard’s dad and Paul’s mum being siblings of Sadie, ‘Winestein’ being changed to ‘Winston’ over the years – a mid-century practice of Jewish families. Fast-forward to 2019 and cousins Richard, who oversees The Dog Walker pet care services for North Leeds, and Paul, who heads up the Orvis clothing store in Harrogate, came across Michael after their wives Mandy and Lynn discovered the family connection on Ancestry.com. Michael, who now works as a dental technician, is married with one son, Beau, a graphic designer who is due to get married soon.

“We’ve now spoken via FaceTime and it was almost like seeing my father again. It was such a profound feeling.” said Richard.

Michael, now residing in Warimoo, near Sydney, is planning to visit Leeds next year to meet all the family he never knew he had. It’s sure to be an emotional time for all the family: “We knew of Michael but had no way of finding him until know, we felt an instant connection and are really looking forward to meeting him.” Added Paul.

And there’s also a JLife connection in this amazing story – MD Elliot Landy’s grandmother Lena was Michael’s aunt on the Cantor side. The family are urging anyone who thinks they might have a connection to the Cantors or Winstons or has any memories that might be helpful to the reunited cousins to get in touch.