A FAMILY has been reunited after almost half a century...with a little help from the Barrhead News.

Joanne McCall, 60, who hails from Barrhead but now lives in Oregon, in the United States, had contacted our reporters to ask for help to trace her long lost relatives.

And she was thrilled when her appeal for information led to her getting back in touch with her cousin George Kerr.

Plans were then made for Joanne to meet her family for a long overdue catch up.

And, last week, Joanne and her husband Gary arrived in Scotland to stay with George, who now lives in Paisley.

The last time she had set eyes on George or any of his four siblings was back in 1969, when she lived with the family in their Fenwick Drive home for around 10 months.

So it was an emotional occasion when Joanne joined George and more than a dozen other relatives for a reunion dinner at the Canal Station restaurant, in Paisley.

“I’m a little bit older than the last time I was here but it has been great to meet everyone again as an adult,” said Joanne.

“We’ve been using the time to share pictures and catch up. It has been really lovely.

“I owe it to the Barrhead News as I had been looking for George and his siblings for more than a year before they got in touch.

“It all feels long overdue and as if I’ve returned home, in a way.

“There’s still a familiarity for me in Barrhead and it feels great to be here.”

Raised in Mound, on Lake Minnetonka, Joanne lived in her mum Mary Kerr’s home town of Barrhead when she was 10.

Homesickness and a longing to be with her dad and siblings back in Mound saw Joanne return after less than a year in Scotland.

But her affection for Barrhead and those she grew up with there has never left her.

Fond memories of time spent at Springhill Primary and playing on the town’s streets with her cousins left Joanne desperate to reconnect.

George, the oldest of the siblings, was the first of the family to get in touch after being alerted to the Barrhead News article by another relative.

And he was delighted to be able to host Joanne and Gary.

George said: “We hadn’t seen each other since 1969, so it really was fantastic.

“My sister Janice still lives in Barrhead and I have a nephew there as well. I’m in Paisley now and we are spread all over.

“We managed to get relatives travelling from all over to meet Joanne. Cousins from Aberdeen and Montrose made the trip.

“We knew that Joanne and Gary aren’t over here for that long, so we really wanted to make the most of it.”

Joanne, who has previously worked in broadcasting but now owns a publicity firm, admits that her Scottish homecoming is “not nearly long enough.”

However, she plans to return again next year to see more of the country and spend more time in Barrhead.