Social media 'miracle' ends in teary reunion for 78-year-old
A HUGE effort to track down living relatives of an elderly couple has resulted in a "miracle" reunion that has brought surviving family members to tears.
Eleanor Torta was scrolling through Facebook late last night when she came across a picture that made her think she was dreaming.
"I absolutely could not believe my eyes," Mrs Torta said.
A striking image, the 78-year-old woman from Home Hill recognised her grandparents Tom and Amelia Jones immediately.
But how the photo came to be shared by one of her Facebook friends was a "miracle" made possible by the power of social media and the determination of a Stanthorpe woman to reunite the portrait with its rightful owners.
After rescuing the beautiful picture from the Stanthorpe dump, Stanthorpe-based historian Leise Cearney shared the image on Facebook in the hope a relative might recognise the picture.
"It was staring straight at me in the shop and I knew I had to get this back to the family," Ms Cearney said.
Imagining how wonderful it would be to find a photo of her own great grandparents, the discovery sparked a mission that quickly spiralled into a social media storm.
Shared more than 750 times and reaching an audience of about 50,000, it took less than 72 hours for the photo to make it around the state and into the Facebook newsfeed of Mrs Torta, who coincidentally had been working on a family history project that day.
Speaking with Mrs Torta on the phone this morning was an emotional moment for the two women from opposite ends of the state.
"She had a bit of a cry because she was so excited about it," Ms Cearney said.
"I always believe if you do the right thing it gets back to the right person."
Mrs Torta, who was close with her grandparents, said having the portrait back in the family was like a miracle.
"They were wonderful, hard working people who were cane farmers," she said.
Mrs Torta quickly sent photographs of her grandparents to Ms Cearney to verify that they were the same people in the photograph.
"It is definitely them, the resemblance is very obvious - they are practically identical," Ms Cearney said.
How the portrait ended up in Stanthorpe is a mystery but Mrs Torta thinks there could have been a cousin who lived in the area and moved away to live in a nursing home in Dubbo.
"I think it is great that this generation is finally caring about our families," Ms Cearney said.
"I think people are more sentimental these days."