Do I know who I am?”  One man’s search for his family. Peter Slater 29th April 2019

Peter has been a sports reporter for BBC radio for many years.

He began by telling us that he was adop­ted at birth.

His adop­tion has led to many ques­tions in pur­suit of his birth family during his life.

In his child­hood he lived in a coun­cil house in Pedmore with his father, Gerald Slater, and his mother.  One day they brought home a baby girl, but she stayed only one day.

(Her mother had decided that she wanted to keep her).

When he was 4 years old he was taken some­where and in a room, which con­tained sev­eral cots, he was told to choose his new baby sister.  He poin­ted at the nearest cot and Suzanne joined the family.  He did not know about his adop­tion.

When he was 6 years old they moved house to Middlesborough, which took him away from his rela­tions and school friends, so he lost touch with uncles and aunts and cous­ins and had to start again.  At times he felt quite isol­ated.

In 1966 when he was 14 he wondered about his ‘nuc­lear’ family.  He was good at or inter­ested in public speak­ing com­pet­i­tions, sport, girls, pop music, etc.  His par­ents were not, so why was he?  His feel­ing of isol­a­tion didn’t decrease when they moved house again and he had to start again making friends.

In 1968 he entered a DJ com­pet­i­tion at a hol­i­day camp and he knew he was going to win.

He had found his way and from then on did Amateur Dramatics, School plays, County Youth Theatre and later, at Sheffield University  where he was read­ing English, he was into Student radio and Politics.

On his 21st birth­day in 1973 his uncle Roger sent him an adop­tion cer­ti­fic­ate which made him real­ise why he was so dif­fer­ent from the rest of his family.  He was adop­ted!!

His birth mother, Freida Kelly, had called him Stanley Kelly.

In 1976 he met his wife-to-be, Alison, and no longer felt isol­ated.  He gradu­ated, and found his first job and knew that this is what he had been born to do, but why?

He mar­ried Alison and they began their own ‘nuc­lear’ family.  He got a job on a local radio sta­tion.  His par­ents moved to Cheltenham.

It was time to find out about Stanley Kelly.

Peter’s birth cer­ti­fic­ate told him that Freda Kelly was a clerk in a bacon dis­trib­ut­ors but he knew noth­ing else.  He got in touch with a social worker called Joe Theaker who found the ori­ginal adop­tion notes.

These notes told him that Freda Kelly was a model, that she went to the National School, that she was Irish, that his father was mar­ried but posed as a single man and that he was Irish.

So Peter is Irish by birth!  He would not find out more about his mother in London — he would have to go to Dublin.

He found cer­ti­fic­ates in Dublin.

His father, Joe Devoy:-  Birth cer­ti­fic­ate, Marriage cer­ti­fic­ate, Death cer­ti­fic­ate, and that he had 6 chil­dren.

Freida:-  just her birth cer­ti­fic­ate and that her par­ents were musi­cians.  He thought she must have emig­rated.  He gave up the search.

A friend, Jim Beglin, said, “Why don’t you put an advert in the Irish Independent and the Dublin Evening News?”  Peter tried this last effort without much hope.

He got a letter from a Mrs. J. Millman Read, saying that she may be able to help him if he explained what he wanted.  He replied, telling her about his search.

He found out that she was his Auntie Joyce but she would not let him meet his mother because Freida was mar­ried and her hus­band did not know about Peter.  However, 2 weeks later he got a letter and pho­to­graph from Freida.

The letter told him that, when she was preg­nant, Joe Devoy dumped her (he was mar­ried with 4 chil­dren).  She went to England, had the child, went back to Dublin, did not get on with her mother (sur­prise!) so went back to England.  There she met Desmond, got preg­nant, was dumped again but kept this child.  She later met a man called Peter and mar­ried him but did not tell him about Stanley in case she was dumped again.

A few weeks later Peter (Slater) met Freida because her hus­band was away work­ing.

In June 1996 he met his mother and had a long chat.  He found out that he had a half-brother called Roy.  He received a letter from Roy and met him, then later at Freida’s 80th birth­day they had a photo taken together.

Both Roy and Freida have passed away but, in 2015, Peter ‘Googled’ Joe Devoy’s wife, found her death notice but also that she was the mother of 9 chil­dren.  He sent an e-mail to the eldest of the sib­lings and got e-mails from Carmel and Maria.  They asked him about his baby teeth  and when he said that the teeth were very poor they said that he def­in­itely was one of the family!

In May 2015 Peter went to Dublin, was met by 5 women waving plac­ards with his name and has met his 4 half-brothers.  DNA tests that are 99% matches show that they are all chil­dren of Joe Devoy and they are happy to wel­come Peter.

This was a very inter­est­ing story, delivered by an expert speaker/presenter.  Full marks!