Photo: Simon Hadley/UNP

The British Red Cross international tracing and message service put Richard Teraud in touch with more than 80 family members he never knew he had. As a result, Richard, from Halesowen, has pledged to leave the Red Cross a legacy in his will. Here is his story:

When the Red Cross called me in October 2004 to say that I had family in Latvia, who were trying to trace my father, it came as a complete surprise. I knew that my dad, Richard, was Latvian and that he arrived in the UK in 1947, but that was about it. He died in 1983 and never spoke about his past.

My cousin, Rigonda, initiated the search through the Latvian Red Cross. She wanted to know what had happened to my dad, one of six brothers, who disappeared during the Second World War. She was compiling a family tree as a gift to her father and there was one box empty.

My dad’s Latvian name was Rihards Terauds. Although he had anglicized it, my name is so similar that the Red Cross traced me through the phone book.

Two months later, I travelled to Latvia with my wife, sons and brother to meet my ‘new’ family. The reunion was filmed for an ITV documentary and was very emotional. There were more than 40 people in the room and the tears were flowing.

My dad’s family was so pleased to know he survived the war and made a life for himself in the UK. Rigonda has since visited his grave, which I think also gave them some comfort.

The reunion has totally changed our lives. We travel to Latvia nearly every year, exchange Christmas and birthday cards and keep in touch online. We are in contact with more than 80 family members and will never forget the part the Red Cross played.

When my wife and I were due to rewrite our wills, we decided to include a gift to the Red Cross. We also give a regular donation and fundraise during Red Cross Week. Leaving a legacy is another way of saying thank you. When we’ve departed, we know where the money will go.

Did you know?
Legacies account for one pound in every four donated to the British Red Cross.