tale of two brothers
Campbell discovers he has a long lost brother|
Inside Out tells
the remarkable story of how Ronnie Campbell, MP, was reunited with the brother
he didn't know he had.
This is the story of two men from very different
Ronnie Campbell is Labour MP for Blyth Valley.
most of his time travelling between his constituency and attending to his duties
in the House of Commons.
Eric McGraw lives in Taunton and owns a barbecue
Until recently the two men had never met and didn't know they
shared a family connection.
Now Inside Out can tell the incredible story
of these two brothers for the first time.
Campbell has been the MP for Blyth Valley since the 1987 election.
up in Blyth in a large family with eight brothers and sisters - and a strict father.
Campbell in his role as MP for Blyth Valley|
Like many North
East teenagers Ronnie left school at 14 and went down the pit.
He got involved
in the miners strikes of 1972 and 1974, and then the big strike in 1984.
was a union organiser during these strikes.
He was also a councillor on
the local council.
When the pits closed down, he was signing on the dole
- and was about to embark on a career as a care worker.
But then the local
MP resigned and Ronnie was asked to stand.
He won the selection by two
votes, and won the 1987 election with a narrow majority of 856.
In contrast Eric McGraw has had a very different career.
runs a restaurant in Taunton and is Editor of the National Prison Newspaper Inside
Eric had always known that he was adopted so he started a search to
track down his birth mother nearly 30 years ago.
Eric was working for the
United Nations and needed to get his birth certificate because he found it embarrassing
turning up to embassies with his adoption certificate.
for his roots - Eric McGraw|
When he got his birth certificate,
he found his name used to be Derek Campbell.
The certificate had his mother's
name and address on it - and showed that he had no father.
So Eric went
to Blyth to find the street - but the family had moved, and so he went to the
housing department and eventually the police station to see if anyone knew of
He was lucky because a police officer had played football with
the brothers and he gave Eric the address.
Eric then arranged through social
services to meet Edna Campbell, his mother.
She told him that he had been
kept within the family for a year, before circumstances had forced her to give
him up for adoption.
Because of the problems it would cause with Edna's
husband (Ronnie's father - now deceased), Eric didn't keep in touch.
he remembered that Edna had told him that one of her son's was in politics.
of the blue
Thirty years later Eric came across the name Ronnie Campbell
who was MP for Blyth.
Eric's job took him into the Houses of Parliament
from time to time, and Ronnie had been picked to ask a question in the House twice
in one week.
It was at this stage that Eric decided to look him up in Dodds'
Parliamentary Companion, and he found that Ronnie was the son of Edna and Ronnie
He then decided to write to him in his office in Parliament:
was a difficult letter to write - I was very conscious of alarming him.
wrote a fairly low key kind of letter. Dear Ronnie - if I may so presume - I wondered
if you could say if you're the son of Edna.
"I was born Derek Campbell
- I met your mum and my mother, I think 30 years ago - terribly sorry to write
to you out of the blue."
When Ronnie got the letter in
early 2005 he was completely stunned - he had no knowledge of his brother's existence:
"He wouldn't have put his full name and address if it had been a spoof -
and I thought it's real," he recalls.
"But I hadn't any clue basically
that I had a brother, and I was stunned for a few days.
"I went down
to see me mother and she confirmed it was true."
wrote a letter back saying that he would love to meet Eric and they arranged to
meet up outside the House of Commons.
The long lost brothers recognised
each other instantly.
home turf - the two brothers back in Blyth|
outside the House of Commons, I was waiting for him coming along - and there's
always hundreds of people outside... and I spotted him a hundred yards away -
as soon as I seen him, I said that's him!," says Ronnie
knew it was him - he just looked the part - I had a good idea how old he was.
I think it might have been the walk you know - that style of walk - we have in
our family and he has the looks as well.
"We had a good handshake
that's for sure - we didn't cuddle and kiss," continues Ronnie.
|"Eric's flesh and blood - he's my half brother. I'm delighted,
he's delighted - he's the belle of the ball... He's in the clan - he's one of
the lads now."|
|Ronnie Campbell on his brother
"We hit it off straight away - got very close
together straight away - cos we came down and went on the terrace - and talked
about his life and my life and that sort of thing."
The two men are
now good friends - "brothers in fact," says Ronnie.
delighted to bring brother Eric back into the family, and they get on really well.
Eric has now been up to meet the whole family twice and is getting to know
his mother Edna.
It's been a very interesting experience for both men and
their extended families.
Eric jokes that, "it's quite a large family
- enough to make a few football teams".
But despite sharing some of
the same genes and having a lot in common, there's one thing that two men don't
agree on - politics!
Ronnie is a Labour man whilst his brother is a Liberal!
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