Coronavirus: “I am in detention with my long lost sister”


Sue Bremner and Margaret Hannay

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Sue and Margaret spent a lot of time cooking together during the lockout

“The lock was an absolutely fantastic silver lining for us. It gave us the opportunity to make up for lost time. “

Sue Bremner and her husband David, from Shropshire, are stranded in New Zealand due to the coronoavirus pandemic.

But it did give Sue the chance to know her long-lost sister Margaret Hannay – whom she hadn’t known existed for more than 40 years.

Margaret, 71, was abandoned for adoption at the age of two weeks by her mother, who had a short relationship with Sue’s father in 1948. It was only last year that the sisters met for the first time after Margaret – who lives in Auckland – got in touch with Sue in the UK.

Sue, 65, and her husband went to see her sister on a two-month trip through New Zealand and Australia on March 5.

But two weeks later, the country went into detention and they were unable to return to the United Kingdom. So Sue was able to spend more time with Margaret and her husband, John.

“We had a wonderful time here,” says Sue, who lives in Ludlow. “We spent a lot of time together drinking wine and cooking and having fun. “

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Margaret says she now calls her sister “Sue-chef”

“We haven’t killed ourselves yet,” laughs Margaret. “It was great. It’s really difficult, as you probably know, to share a kitchen with someone. But we seem to manage, everything works. “

Sue discovered that she had an older sister in 2000 when her father told her that he had had a child with another woman before meeting his mother.

“My father asked me if I was trying to find Margaret because he wanted her to know that there had never been a day without him thinking about the adopted child.

“He was very sorry that someone was brought into the world and he didn’t know them and he wanted to apologize for that. “

Sue gave her details to the general registry office – which holds birth and death records – and searched social networks and ancestry sites.

She was told that she would not be able to find information about her sister unless Margaret contacted to say that she wanted to be found.

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Margaret (second from left) met siblings John (far left), Sue and Lawrence (far right) for the first time last year

Margaret, who moved to New Zealand 45 years ago, always knew that she had been adopted but did not really want to find her biological parents. But last year, she told her daughter that she had started to wonder if she had siblings.

She then contacted the general registry office and within two weeks they replied that she had a sister – giving her Sue’s contact details.

“I was sitting there in bed with my first cup of morning tea with John snoring next to me and I opened this email and I thought,” Oh, I have a sister, “says Margaret.

“So when he woke up, he found me sitting in bed with my cup of tea sobbing. When I told him he was delighted because he had two older brothers. I always wanted to have brothers and sisters but I never did. “

Sue says it was “amazing” when she received an email from Margaret introducing herself – but unfortunately their father had died before they were reunited.

“Receiving this email was like winning the pools. I would love to talk to my dad about it, but I just feel like he’s in me and he knew it was going on.


Margaret and Sue spoke to the BBC on Auckland FaceTime

Margaret and Sue also have two brothers – Lawrence and John Connell – and the four siblings first met in the UK last year.

“It was a great opportunity to suddenly meet the rest of the family to see how we all got on,” says Margaret. “Since we have known each other, we have found so many similarities, it’s strange. “

Sue and Margaret say they both like weak coffee and have “shaky knees.”

Sue and her husband have already canceled two flights to the UK, but have booked a flight to go home on Saturday.

Currently, there has only been one coronavirus death in New Zealand, and their daughter – who is a doctor – even advised them to stay there.

“She says to stay where you are, it’s very safe in New Zealand. But we have children in the UK and grandchildren. It is a difficult decision. Your heart is pulled back. We really have to come back but we’re having a wonderful time. “

The sisters had planned to meet in the UK later this year – but they suspended the trip until 2021.

“I’m already starting to plan because I have to match this trip,” says Sue. “I’m thinking of booking Ludlow Castle and reuniting the whole family. “


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