A PENSIONER living thousands of miles away has discovered the identity of his father – thanks to a social media page detailing Haddington’s history.

David Simpson had spent 74 years looking for his dad after growing up in a Quarriers orphanage to the west of Glasgow before moving across the Atlantic.

But his attempts proved fruitless until a visit to long-lost family in Elgin last year.

John Hamilton, from Lost Haddington, then became aware of Mr Simpson’s quest.

He said: “From the information David received from Quarriers, all he knew was that his father was a Jack Cunningham, a plasterer from Goodall’s Place in Haddington.

“His niece AnnMarie Whyte did a search for Goodall’s Place and the result came back with a find against a Lost Haddington image for the old Goodall’s shop on the town’s Bridge Street; this led to AnnMarie posting a question asking if I knew who Jack Cunningham was.

“A search of the Lost Haddington collection for Cunningham brought back too many matches, so the search was honed to ‘plasterer’ and the results produced the equivalent of a Holy Grail image – a George Angus scan of a ‘John’ Cunningham’s security application to RAF East Fortune.”

As well as correcting the name, the image confirmed his occupation and address, as well as his height, hair and eye colour.

A plea was put on social media for further information, which found that John’s nickname was ‘Gibby’ and that David had a cousin living in Musselburgh called Janette Brotherstone.

Mr Hamilton said: “Also, a further search of Lost Haddington for the word ‘Gibby’, with it being an unusual name, produced another George Angus image from 1913 showing David’s father John when he was only five or six years old holding the date plate for his school photo – George had annotated the image saying the ‘boy holding the date slate was Gibby Cunningham’, so when I sent David this image it was the first time he’d seen his father.

“The feedback from the Lost Haddington followers also indicated that John died in 1991 when he lived at No 7 St Ann’s Place.

“Through the invaluable feedback which named Janette as his first cousin, David was put in touch with her and she’s since sent him some old family photos showing his father throughout his life.

“The photos came from David’s father’s home, where he died, as it was Janette who dealt with the death notices for both David’s father and John’s wife Jessie Cagder.

“David visited Scotland in autumn 2018 so I offered to bring him to Haddington, which he accepted.”

From there, David, who now lives in Rochester, New York, was able to see the home where his dad was born on Haddington’s St Martin’s Gate, as well as his homes on Goodall’s Place and St Ann’s Place.

It is thought David’s dad was lodged with a landlady while working in Elgin in 1944.

According to Mr Hamilton: “The landlady’s husband was away from home for two years as a soldier in World War Two and it’s during this period that John and the landlady must have had a moment of indiscretion together, which produced David!

“When the landlady’s husband returned home from the war due to injury and found his wife holding baby David – that couldn’t have been his – he gave his wife the ultimatum: ‘Take him to the orphanage or it’s a divorce.’

“At the age of around one month old, David was taken to the Quarriers orphanage which is near the Bridge of Weir to the west of Glasgow.”

David left Quarriers at the age of 15 and eventually moved to Winnipeg in Canada in 1965 before eventually settling in New York.

More than 15 years ago, he began his bid to track down his family. That saw him told that his dad had lodged with the Simpson family in Elgin.

David then wrote to all the Simpsons he could find in Elgin, which saw him eventually meet two half-brothers and two half-sisters before the breakthrough with the Haddington connection.