A Bideford woman has been united with the brother she never knew she had after decades of wondering if she had any other family.

Peggy Rowe nee Down pictured aged about eight with the young woman she thought was her sister but was in fact her mother, and her 'parents' who were actually her grandparents. Picture: contributedPeggy Rowe nee Down pictured aged about eight with the young woman she thought was her sister but was in fact her mother, and her 'parents' who were actually her grandparents. Picture: contributed

Peggy Rowe, now 82, grew up believing her mother and grandparents were her sister and parents.

Later she learned the truth, that her mother became pregnant aged 16, but she was never told who her father was.

A mysterious trail of odd facts and loose family links eventually led her to a meeting with her half brother Mike Rogers from Bristol in North Devon at the end of July.

She said: “I was delighted to meet up with Michael after wondering for a long time if I had any other family. It was a very enjoyable day.”

Peggy Rowe nee Down aged around 18 when she became engaged. Picture: contributedPeggy Rowe nee Down aged around 18 when she became engaged. Picture: contributed

Mike was also delighted, adding: “I thought it was a lovely moment meeting a sister I didn’t know I had, and what a lovely lady, proud to be her brother.”

Peggy’s daughter Synova Wickham had asked her brother-in-law David Holmes if he could use his skills with ancestry searches to track down the name of Peggy’s father.

David used his detective skills and Peggy’s maiden name of Down to hunt for a needle in a haystack, until he came across a 1938 newspaper clipping that reported on a maintenance claim hearing at South Molton.

The name was Kenneth Rogers and more research revealed local military historian Graham Moore was listed as a first cousin once removed of Kenneth.

Graham and David worked together to discover the whereabouts of Kenneth’s other children, all of whom had no idea about Peggy.

David said: “Very surprisingly the Rogers family embraced the revelation very positively and Mike (being the only sibling in the UK) agreed to take a DNA test.

“I am delighted they have now met up and appear to get on so well - just a pity it took more than 82 years to get to this point.”

Graham, who has spent a lot of time reuniting families through recording many of the wartime plane crashes around RAF Chivenor, said: “I was contacted at the end of April by David, as he had found reference to the possible father, Kenneth Rogers, in my online family tree, who was a first cousin of my mother, though she reckoned she only ever met him once or twice.

“But it was a pleasure to help bring them all together. David has spent much time working on this.”

Mike’s brother lives in South Africa and he has a sister in Spain, and it is hoped that maybe next year a more significant party will happen.

The timing is especially poignant as Kenneth would have been 100 on August 3, but sadly died in 1994.