Picture posted on Facebook leads to big family reunion

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IT WAS an evening to remember for Jakki McKeown as she held a reunion for around 40 members of her family.

Some relatives had not seen each other for up to 50 years and were delighted to recognise a familiar face – if not remember a name – when they walked into the Hoeford Inn, on Gosport Road, Fareham.

Some of the family members at the reunion

Some of the family members at the reunion

Jakki, 46, of Worthing Avenue, in Elson, Gosport, says she’s from a big family that had lost contact.

But through Facebook and a family funeral she managed to pull everyone together for the night on Saturday.

‘I went on the Gosport Facebook page and posted a picture. Through that I built it up and we found our relatives.

‘Some have moved away because we are quite a large family. There’s also quite a big gap in age. We hadn’t really had contact with anyone.’

Jakki’s cousin Keith Brown, 54, had travelled the furthest – making the more than 900-mile round trip to the pub from Rosyth, in Scotland. He was contacted ahead of the reunion through Facebook.

He moved away from Gosport around 1981.

He said: ‘There’s people here, my cousins, that I haven’t seen for 50 years.

‘I didn’t recognise them. They’re coming up and I was seeing the resemblance and trying to work out who it is.

Patriarch of the family Frederick Culling, 83, of Fareham, was delighted to see people again.

He said: ‘I haven’t seen people here for probably 20 or 30 years – I don’t recognise half of them. I think it’s a brilliant idea. My two sons are both here and they’ve come down for the weekend. I don’t see much of them.’

And Jakki’s mum was equally pleased with the turnout of family.

She said: ‘It’s been lovely. There’s nieces and nephews I know about but have never actually met.

‘It’s nice to get the whole family together.

‘We have always been a big family. Some of them are 40-odd now – I haven’t seen them for 40 years.’

One of the youngest family members to go along to the night was teaching assistant Emma Douglas, 25, from Chippenham, in Wiltshire.

She had lived in Gosport up until she was 20 but met some new faces.

She said: ‘It’s very weird – there’s a lot of people I haven’t seen for years.

‘There’s quite a few people I haven’t seen met before. It’s quite nice.’