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Somme soldier's story reunites family after 100 years

Report by ITV Anglia's Sarah Cooper:

Rushden reunion: Raymond's family meet relatives they didn't know they had Credit: Carol Lloyd

Blog: Sarah Cooper @SarahCooperITV

After a hundred years, why is the Battle of the Somme still relevant today? I think this family photo says it all. A century after 19-year-old shoe maker, Raymond Percival, left Rushden Station to become a soldier - his story has brought his family back together again, on the same platform where he said goodbye.

Surprise meeting: A first look at family photos they've never seen before Credit: ITV News Anglia

In a previous blog post, I talked about how some of Raymond's relatives got in touch after watching our piece on ITV News Anglia. Well, a few weeks later, I had another email, this time with a birth certificate attached. That's when I found out that our Somme Soldier, Raymond Percival, was a father when he went to fight.

Birth certificate: Winifred Percival Bayes was born on March 13th, 1915 Credit: Carol Lloyd

Raymond Percival and Rebecca Bayes had a daughter called Winifred in March 1915. They didn't get married until later that year and that could be why Winifred's birth was kept quiet and why so many of the family didn't know that she ever existed.

Mother and daughter: Ray's wife Rebecca with their daughter, Winifred Credit: Carol Lloyd

Ray's daughter Winifred had a son, who went on to have two sons of his own. One of those sons, Steven Felce, is still living in Rushden today. Steven is Ray's great grandson and Steven's son, James, is Ray's great great grandson. They didn't know that some of their relatives are also still in Rushden and that's why we decided to get them all together for a surprise meeting.

"It's a whole branch of the family that we didn't know. We knew nothing of them, so it's absolutely amazing to meet everybody."

– Steven Felce, Raymond Percival's great grandson

"It's amazing. I can't believe there's family we didn't know about, right on our doorstep, and it's so lovely, it's brought us all together."

– Alice Kettle, Raymond Percival's great great niece
Sharing stories: Steven and James show off some family photos Credit: ITV News Anglia

This family reunion was something nobody ever expected and it's been a real privilege for me to tell Raymond's story and help reveal his living legacy. Ultimately, I hope Ray's Somme story will inspire others to find out more about their own family history...you never know what, or who, you might find.

Sarah Cooper, ITV News.

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