Northern Ireland

Kincora survivor finds family after answering advert

Jim Miller and Judy Hindle
Image caption Judy Hindle found her half brother Jim Miller through a newspaper advert

Jim Miller's mother told him he was an only child and that his father had died in 1966.

He was put into care, eventually ending up as one of the many abuse victims in the Kincora Boys home in east Belfast.

On the day after his 51st birthday, his cousin rang and told him there was an advert in the Belfast Telegraph asking for him by his full name.

"Richard James Anthony Miller, aged 51, born Canada and last known in Belfast 1964", it said, along with a phone number to call.

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Media caption'I recognised her right away'

His cousin encouraged him to call the number and when he did, an agency that searches for missing relatives was on the other end of the line.

They explained that he had family members in England and that his half-sister was trying to get in touch. She gave Jim her contact details and left it up to him.

'Soul connection'

Jim was a bit nervous, but eventually he made the call.

"These are things you see on TV - it's never actually yourself. It was amazing, a mixture of all sorts of emotions, but I thought it can't do any harm to phone."

Judy said the connection was instant and a few days later Jim was on a plane to Manchester to meet her.

Image copyright Jim Miller
Image caption Jim Miller as a baby

"I didn't need a photograph," he said.

"Even though I had no idea what she looked like, as soon as I saw her, I knew who she was."

Judy felt the same: "From the minute we spoke on the phone, it was like what they call a 'soul connection' - it was instant."

The family tree

Jim's father had not died in 1966 - he had split from Jim's mother and moved to Manchester.

In 1973, he married again and had another two children, Judy and David.

Image copyright Judy Hindle
Image caption Judy and her younger brother David were born after Jim's father moved to Manchester and re-married

Growing up, Judy had heard Jim's name and knew that her dad had been married previously. However, it was not until years later that she decided to track him down.

"I had just turned 40 and a close friend had died suddenly. My mum had died the year before and I suddenly was struck with how short life is and I decided to track down my missing siblings," she said.

As well as Judy, Jim also met his half brother David and was shocked to discover that his father was still alive.

He visited him in a care home in Manchester, but because of his father's dementia, it was hard to have a meaningful conversation.

'Detached'

Judy was working as a trauma therapist and that experience was invaluable as she got to know Jim better.

After her husband left, Jim's mother could not cope and he was put into care.

He ended up in the Kincora Boys' home in Belfast, where he became one of the many victims of paedophile William McGrath.

Image caption Three senior care staff at Kincora, including William McGrath, were jailed in 1981 for abusing 11 boys

"It's an experience that never leaves you," he said.

"I'm still in 1978 and haven't moved on. I'm still that 15-year-old boy."

Jim's experience left him detached and unemotional, something Judy had seen many times during her work as a counsellor.

"It's a coping mechanism that is quite common, and I was able to get Jim to talk about his experiences, which is the first step," she said.

Jim revisited Kincora recently for the first time in 40 years and has also given evidence to the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry.

The lack of progress is something he finds frustrating.

"A lot of the victims are dying or have died. For them, it's too late and now is the time to get this sorted for all of us. It's only then that closure will come."

Extended Family

Judy will always be thankful that Jim picked up the phone and gave her a call.

"I've got a big brother now, and though it's not always easy, I just love him, especially after all he has been through."

Jim is slowly learning to talk about his emotions.

"It's lovely," he said.

"I do have a family now, even if they are in Manchester and support Manchester United. Nobody's perfect!"

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