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Penzance man adopted at birth did not know football player was sister

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: January 31, 2013

  • Barrie Prowse with his birth mother Caroline, with whom he was reunited after research on the internet.

  • Penzance. The Prowse family, Barrie and Natalie with their children Taylor and Kenza. Buy this picture: www.thisiscornwall.co.uk/buyaphoto

  • Penzance. The Prowse family, Barrie and Natalie with their children Taylor and Kenza. PZPM20130126A-002_C.JPG

  • Gemma Sanders from Launceston, Barrie Prowse's long-lost sister. Paul Hamlyn

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A PENZANCE man adopted at birth watched his sister play football for years without realising they were related.

Barrie Prowse uncovered the startling news after tracking down his biological mother.

Now the 27-year-old has been reunited and introduced to a whole new family, including sister and Great Britain deaf footballer Gemma Sanders.

"Me and Gemma both played football for Penzance and I would have watched her play and not even known she was my sister," said Mr Prowse.

Adopted at birth, the father of two knew only his mother's name and had very little detail about his father.

"I had a piece of paper that said her name, Caroline Anne Perry, and that she was an extrovert, into motorbikes and was a single parent," he said.

"My birth father was in the Royal Marines and was 5' 9''. That was all the information I had."

Mr Prowse found his family after a bit of detective work on website Genes Reunited and with the support of his wife Natalie.

The keen sportsman discovered that a few years after giving birth in a single mothers' home in St Austell, Caroline moved to Warwickshire before remarrying twice.

"She was only 18 when she had me and if you look at most 18-year-olds these days they couldn't look after a child," he said.

"I do not have any hard feelings towards her."

His newly unearthed family includes four sisters and two brothers.

Gemma, who lives in Launceston, is closest to him and says she can't wait to meet her new brother for the first time.

She told The Cornishman: "Once he found me, I couldn't believe it, I lost my words.

"Of course I was in shock, I wasn't expecting another older brother. At the same time, I was so pleased that he found me.

"It's nice to have another new family side of me if that makes sense. Once he told me about himself, and showed me a picture of him and his family, he looked like my real dad, it was the best feeling.

"I am meeting him soon, for the very first time. I am nervous and excited too, we have a big catch-up to do."

But unfortunately, after tracking down Gemma, she broke the news that his father, Anton Whitehead, died in 1995.

"My birth mother didn't know and when I told her she was in tears. He was her first love."

Earlier this month he travelled to Warwickshire to meet Caroline, her son and three daughters, and is now looking forward to getting together with Gemma and another brother from his father's side.

"It really hasn't all sunk in yet," he said.

"But it does help me to appreciate what I have here. When I met Caroline I said thank you.

"My adoptive mum and dad have given me everything, I had a very good childhood and that is what Caroline wanted for me."

Mr Prowse added that he will be seeing Caroline and her children again next month when he travels to a family christening.

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