Tarring Picnic in the Park stalwart finds Canadian roots

Tarring Picnic in the Park stalwart finds Canadian roots


Colin Hubert Dean and his wife Gill work tirelessly behind the scenes at every Tarring Picnic in the Park and were once again there this year doing their bit.

Today Colin will be at the Canadian Memorial service as Colin is a Canadian war baby.  He was born at Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex  in 1943 after his mum, Eileen, fell pregnant to a Canadian soldier. His father Hubert returned to Canada and Colin’s mum later married Charles Dean and Colin’s brother Roger was born.

Aged 5, CoIin was told by his nan that his dad had died – Charlie had succumbed to cancer.  Growing up Colin applied to join the Coldstream Guards and needed a birth certificate and was very surprised to read that Charlie had adopted him.  Colin knew nothing of his true history.

Colin wondered about his birth father. His mum had given Colin his name, Hubert, as his middle name. Whilst being curious, Colin always felt that to try to track him down might cause a huge upset with his family as he assumed Charlie would have met and married someone in Canada.

Colin said: “In May 2011 there was an article in Brighton Argus about Canadian Roots an organisation headed by Chris Vowles and Pam Wilson from Worthing and so I completed the on-line form giving as many details of Hubert as I could. My late aunt remembered his surname to be “Running”.

“I didn’t really expect too much to happen but I figured that by now my father may well have died, along with the lady he married. In September 2012 having heard nothing from the search, I was invited to Canadian Roots Annual Reunion at the Charles Dickens pub in Worthing.

“The basement was beautifully decked out as a WWII air-raid shelter – the whole evening was so well organised. During the course of the proceedings, via Skype, a link was set up with Grace the Canadian side of Canadian Roots. It is she who instigates searches of military records. I spoke briefly with her and to my amazement on the following Monday evening Grace telephoned me to say that she was on my case and would be in touch again as soon as she had any news.

“Later that week, Grace phoned again to advise that Hubert Running had died in 1975 and we subsequently learned that his wife had also died. However, Grace asked me if I was sitting down as she had something to tell me… the news was that I had seven siblings. There are five half-sisters and two half-brothers. Grace is an amazing lady and acts as an intermediary to assess the reaction of the Canadian side of families to the news that they have a relative in the UK.”

Colin began regular email contact with his half-sisters Rosie, the oldest (she is delighted that she is no longer the oldest), Barbie and Carol.  Rosie and her husband live in Nova Scotia and Barbie and Rick in Calgary. Carol still lives close to the Running family home in Mallorytown, Ontario.

In June this year Colin and his wife Gill visited the beautiful town of Gananoque, gateway to the Thousand Islands to meet his long lost relations. They met up with Rosie, Barbie and Carol, together with their respective husbands. In Colin and Gill’s honour there was a gathering of most of the Running family, complete with grandchildren, nieces, nephews and  dogs.

Colin said: “It was totally overwhelming – the welcome we received from the minute we met Carol, Rosie and Barbie on the Saturday to the end of our ten day stay was just perfect, such was the generosity and kindness showered on us both.

“Before we embarked on the visit, I had an expectation of how I would like it to turn out and I can honestly say everything exceeded all my expectations. Thanks to Chris, Pam and Grace we had an amazing visit. It is just possible that we will be able to welcome some of my “new” family over here – this is a definite possibility.

“To sum up, meeting my Canadian family was awesome!”


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