A former soldier who offered a homeless man a cigarette in the street was stunned to discover it was his estranged brother.
Father-of-six Roy Aspinall, 36, was leaving his local Remembrance Sunday service when he saw the man and wandered over.
Roy, who served in the Queens Lancashire Regiment, felt ‘something in his features’ made him curious about the man – so started to chat.
And he ‘filled up’ when it dawned on him the man was in fact Billy White, 28, the long-lost brother he last saw as a new-born baby in a pram.
Both were sons of Lorraine White, but due to family splits Roy was raised by an aunt while Billy stayed with their mum until going into care aged 10.
Now Billy has moved in with Roy, from Wigan, Greater Manchester, as they catch up on the 28 lost years.
Roy said: ‘I walked through the churchyard to get my bus and I saw this guy sitting on the brick wall. The recognition of his face was there. I thought I had to see who he was. He had his little bag and sleeping bag.
‘I went over, offered him a cigarette and starting having a chat. Eventually asked if he was William. He said yes but they called him Billy.
‘I was in tears when we worked it out. To say “I’ve got a brother2 is so foreign but it’s a feeling of joy, not tears. He’s never getting rid of me now!’
Roy remembers just one occasion when he saw his brother but as a baby at a relative’s house.
Due to family tensions when very young Roy was given to her sister and brought up by her.
For years he believed his aunt was actually his mother – and mistakenly thought his cousins were in fact his siblings.
Billy, meanwhile, was brought up by Lorraine until he was 10 then after she passed away he moved into the care system.
Later Billy spent three long periods on the streets – including the last eight months.
Billy admitted it was sheer chance he happened to be sat in the church yard on Remembrance Sunday when Roy wandered past.
‘He said I’m your brother. I didn’t believe him at first. It’s mad. I always knew I had an older brother, my mum explained everything to me.
‘But I didn’t know anything about him or even if he lived in the same area. I’m still pretty shocked by everything.’
Roy immediately invited Billy to come and stay at his home and now they have formed a close bond.
Thanks to Roy, Billy has also got support with housing and found a job with a logistics firm.
He said: ‘My life changed when Roy came over to me. He looks after me, like a big brother should.’