Father and son meet for the first time after 47-year search
AFTER 47 years of searching, Manny Ellul finally got to meet his son Greg Bracknell and enjoy a magnificent gathering with more than 30 relatives at his Brassall home.
The father and son duo had so much to catch up on, and now Greg is set to move his young family from Western Australia to Brisbane where the pieces of a complex family history jigsaw puzzle will gradually be put into place.
As the QT reported earlier this month, Manny had a son in 1968, named Christopher John Wood, who was put up for adoption while he was away on a crayfish boat. He searched high and low for his son on his return but with no luck.
The mother of his son had disappeared and all he was left with were questions.
It was only in 1993 that Greg received a letter from the Department of Communities in Western Australia outlining his original name, his birth date in Subiaco and the circumstances of his adoption. The information was sketchy and some of it wrong.
Around a decade ago Greg put all the details he had up on an adoption site, in search of his mother.
"All I had was my birth name, my mum's name and my date of birth," he says.
"I put it on every adoption site I could think of."
Last month Channel Seven linked to a site in a story on adoption on its Sunday Night program and Manny and his wife Lyn were watching and went to the adoption link.
Greg had stated he was born Christopher John, that his mum's name was Ivy and she had lived in Geraldton. Also on the link was his birth date in 1968 in Subiaco.
Greg also left his mobile number.
All the pieces fell into place for Manny and he knew he had found his son.
Manny called Greg who didn't initially believe him.
"I hung up on him," he grins.
"I thought it was one of my mates."
But then Greg decided to ring back.
"He mentioned everything I know. My mum's name…where…how," he says.
"How he wasn't on the scene when I was born, because he was out fishing. Then all of a sudden it just clicked.
"I sent him a photo…and it really started to click when he started sooking."
The pair swapped photos and it was plain as day that Greg was Manny's son.
"Identical eyes and nose…and I've got to get him back for that," Greg chuckles.
"From that moment on we've been talking every day and skyping."
Greg then organised to fly over from Perth last week with partner Sandie and son Sheldon and got to meet three of his five sisters - Deborah, Susan and Rita - and two of his four brothers, Peter and Nikki.
More than 30 members of the extended family were on hand.
The gathering at Manny's home was naturally a tad overwhelming for Greg.
"I've got nine sisters and brothers and hundreds of nephews and nieces," he says.
"You are trying to find feelings that you haven't had.
"The old man said to me, 'I love you son'.
"But I can't say that yet. When I have those feelings I will turn around to my old man and say it.
"It is hard when you are thrown into a situation where people are saying, 'Hi, I am your brother', 'I'm your sister', 'I'm your niece'.
"I've gone from nothing to everything."
Greg is a real character, no doubt.
He first met Manny off the plane at Brisbane Airport.
"I was looking for this short person with a big nose, and there he was," Greg grins.
"We are both stirrers. You can see the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree.
"I don't want to be nobody's hero. I just want to be a brother and a son, and for everybody to get on well."
For Manny, his meeting with Greg is a triumph on so many levels.
"Wow," he says.
"It is very hard to explain, because I have been looking for him for 47 years.
"I knew his name, because his mother and I had already arranged what we were going to call him if he was a boy.
"I was fishing on the ocean, I came back because I knew when she was going to have the baby but she had disappeared.
"I am a very emotional sort of person, but he is tough. He tries to be tough.
"There is no doubt that he is my son."
Greg went looking for his mother and found his father.
"Do I still want to look for my mother? I don't know," he says.
"I have had so many years where I have looked and had the door slammed in my face.
"But now one is opened I don't need to look anywhere else. I might find my happiness here.
"I've found a family that I never knew I had.
"Everyone wants to hear how wonderful it is, but even I don't know how wonderful it is yet."