Friday, 11 February, 2000, 10:13 GMT BBC - UK

Web reunites brother and


A woman who spent 38 years searching for her long-lost brother found him after 90 minutes of surfing the internet. Eileen Stevens, 78, had written letters for nearly four decades trying to trace her elder brother Percival Rider. She had seen him only once since Percival joined the army in 1933 aged 15, and she feared she may never see him again. But thanks to her efforts on the worldwide web, they have had an emotional reunion. Mrs Stevens, from Gateshead, Tyne & Wear, knew only that Percival was living somewhere in the United States. One listing She had written to the Musicians' Union, the British Embassy and even military organisations in the search for him, all to no avail. So, never having used a computer before, she decided to enrol for free internet lessons at her local branch of Age Concern in Gateshead, Tyne & Wear. And after only one lesson, she was able to track down her brother's name, through a site which searches electoral registers across the US. Only one Percival Rider out of the entire population came up on the register. She said: "I couldn't believe there was only one Percival Rider listed, and he was in Largo, Florida." Reunion

of Age Concern in Gateshead. The lady told me he did. or in Eileen's case find her brother. "She has shown it's never too late to learn. he's known as Ben'. "They were extremely helpful and they showed me how to call up the different pages that I needed. And she discovered why her calls were unanswered for six weeks Percival and his wife Ann were at their holiday flat in London." Louella McDine. she shouted. 'Fairy stories' And she believes the internet lesson was invaluable.Mrs Stevens tried the number daily for six weeks before finally getting through to a woman. "Things like this restore your belief in fairy stories. and asked who was speaking. "I replied that I might be his sister from England. They now plan to see each other regularly. and they showed me everything I needed to do. Mrs Stevens flew out to Florida to meet the couple .and said they talked non-stop. "I asked if Percival Rider lived there." she said."The internet is something we use to help elderly people follow their pet subjects." . There was a long silence then she asked. `Ben. "I had never been near a computer before but they must be absolutely wonderful things to be able to do that. `Does he have any other name?' "When I said. said they were "absolutely ecstatic for Eileen". `Yes. it's your sister on the phone'." Her brother was nicknamed Ben after jazz clarinetist Benny Goodman. She said: "I explained to the staff at the branch that I was searching for my brother.

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