A RUNCORN man who found his father after a 30-year search was devastated to discover he had died just hours before he made contact.
Jim Jenkinson made a newspaper appeal for his son Derek to get in touch after he became separated from him through his work with the RAF.
But Derek, 55, was crushed when he phoned his long-lost family and found that his dad had lost his fight against cancer four hours earlier at his home in Edenthorpe, Doncaster.
Derek, of Halton Road, said: "I saw the picture of dad in the newspaper but didn't recognise him because we hadn't seen each other for 30 years. The next morning a friend told me it was an appeal for me to get in touch.
"I rang Margaret, my father's wife, straight away at about 9.30am but she told me that sadly dad had passed away a few hours earlier a 5.30am.
Derek decided to carry out his father's wish for him to get to know his family again and made the journey to Doncaster to fill in the missing years with his step-mother Margaret.
Now he is looking forward to meeting more of his father's relatives and friends.
"In a way I am glad I didn't see dad before he died because I have found memories of him when he was young and healthy," said Derek. "I would have hated seeing him so ill.
"It was just a case of us losing touch all those years ago. Dad was based in South Africa with the RAF and I stayed in Liverpool with his parents.
"They both died the same week when I was 21 and I was annoyed when dad couldn't come home to help with the funeral.
"After that our letters to each other became less frequent until we completely lost touch. I made attempts to trace him every few years but never got anywhere.
"However its no use dwelling on the past. Now I can make a fresh start and get to know Margaret and dad's friends."