Stephen Chapman

The second incarnation of my blog

Looking for Gloria


Here is the story of peaked interest, incomplete records, false hopes and dead ends. It’s also the story of persistence.

The search begins

Have you ever come across a random item and wondered about it’s history?  If it is an object, you can usually only speculate about its origins unless it’s highly original. The internet might be able provide clues and perhaps a story.

Alison, a friend of ours, has a knack with gifts and in particular, wrapping them. As part of a birthday present with layers of packaging, she randomly included an old postcard featuring a photograph of a Jack Russell on the front that she had picked up at a house clearance shop in Letchworth, North Herts.

With all good wishes

The sender must have chosen this card carefully, with the alert dog, flowers and a message wishing happiness, health and more to the reader.  A man called Derek sent the card to his sister Gloria and this lead me to asking the asking the questions: Who were Gloria and Derek Bushell?  And what was their story?  Perhaps they would like to see the card again?!

I didn’t think much about it, but a slow Sunday afternoon made me wonder if either person was still alive, so I began an investigation.

Who are the Bushells?

On the reverse of the card is a message to Sister Gloria in Lowestoft from her brother Derek.  From the postmark, I knew that Derek sent the postcard in a year ending in a 2 from somewhere in Suffolk, but couldn’t make out the exact year. Given the age, I doubted the address would help.


Given that it’s clearly a 20th century item, the information that you can obtain online is limited when someone is possibly alive but I started on the Ancestry site.

I began looking for the 2 people and easily found their birth information and sadly that Derek had died in 1999, but Gloria could now be in her early 70’s (though death records end in 2005, so I wasn’t sure).  Through various approaches using Ancestry, I surmised that Gloria had married Trevor Smith.  The name Smith is a nightmare for investigations of people of course!

I managed to find other family members of the same age, but struggled to progress much further. Given the ages that I now knew, I worked out that the card was sent in 1952.

Having left the card alone for a couple of weeks, I looked for more information about Trevor Smith, I searched under his full name and found an ex Ipswich Town player profile from Lowestoft and in the comments on his online profile, 2 people had said (in so many words), “that’s my Dad”.  So I had 2 new names, but was still unsure so I used to check voters records. You can only see towns and names, but that was enough.

I established that a family of voters existed in Lowestoft with a Trevor, 2 adult children and thankfully, a Gloria.

I then turned to Facebook to find the children (who would be around my age) and you’ll be amazed at how many Smith’s with the same names as them live in or near Lowestoft and that’s just the people that have added a location to their profile!

It only took a couple of minutes to find some Smiths with Facebook friends that have a surname Bushell (I figured they may be friends with cousins, uncles, aunts etc), I sent a few messages but received no responses… until this week.


A few days ago I received a reply and it was from Gloria’s daughter, who was a little suspicious but pleased when I explained.  And the really good news is that Gloria has now seen the postcard and was “amazed”.

A little bit of detective work has hopefully made a family’s day.  My work is done here!


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This entry was posted on April 30, 2016 by in interesting and tagged , .

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