Australian makes 10,000-mile trek to meet long lost Spanish family thanks to Olive Press appeal

LAST UPDATED: 15 Sep, 2017 @ 16:47
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REUNION: Robert and wife (bottom centre) and cousins

AN Australian has praised the Gibraltar Olive Press after he was reunited with his long lost Gibraltar family.

Robert Gascoigne, 80, has been meeting ‘literally dozens’ of estranged relatives on the Rock after a tragic event separated them more than 50 years ago.

“It has been absolutely fantastic,” the former chemist insisted, “and it’s all down to you guys, your paper did this and I can’t thank you enough. It’s phenomenal.”

 

LEFT TO RIGHT: Robert’s sister Maria, auntie Maria, his mother and Robert as a youngster

The reunion came about after we ran a front page appeal in June for Gascoigne the son of a Gibraltar soldier, who emigrated to Australia in 1938.

Just two days later, local Pepe Pallas, 71, saw the appeal and recognised his mother-in-law – Gascoigne’s auntie – in one of the pictures.

He immediately contacted the paper and we were able to put the pair in touch, and they arranged a meet up.

“We’ve been to the top of the Rock and seen the monkeys and have met so many relatives,” said Gascoigne, who made the 10,000-mile trip with his wife.

LADS: Robert (middle) and Spanish cousins

“And the family resemblance is insane, the same noses and eyes, and they are all so loud just like us!

“The whole thing has been incredible.”

Gascoigne had his life turned upside down at the age of 21, when his Spanish uncle Juan joined his family in Australia.

Juan was Schizophrenic and killed Gascoigne’s Estepona-born mother, Manuela Valcarcel Santos, who was just 42, before turning the gun on himself.

But even more tragically, Gascoigne’s sister, who had been extremely excited about the reunion, died from a severe asthma attack just two days before the mammoth trip this month.

“It’s such a shame,” said Gascoigne, “she would have loved to have known what we have found.”

Gascoigne and dozens of his new found family members from Gibraltar and Estepona hosted a reunion party on Sunday, in line with National Day, and have made future plans to remain in touch.

“If it wasn’t for your paper this would not have happened,” added Gascoigne, “you have been phenomenal.”

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