NEWS

Photos taken 60 years apart help nanny fulfill her dying wish

After reuniting with his nanny, Carlo wanted to fulfil Beryl’s last wish
Carlo Brugnoni

Carlo Brugnoni was thrilled to be reunited with a very special lady, and he helped her fulfill her final wish. Here he tells the story in his own words.

Running my hands over the teddy’s soft fur, it was like stepping back in time. He was a memento I’d kept from my childhood. But I never thought my toy would suddenly become so important when it was 64.

About 18 months ago, I got a call from my sister-in-law Peggy to say a Mrs Westbury was trying to reach me. ‘Her first name’s Beryl,’ Peggy went on.
‘That’s my old nanny!’ I said, remembering the kind-hearted woman who’d cared for me.

My parents, Dorothy and Con, ran a busy pub and when I was a month old they’d hired Beryl, then 17, who lived across the street. She was like a second mother to me. We were rarely apart until she married at 21.

Beryl and Carlo on her wedding day
Beryl and me on her wedding day. (Credit: Carlo Brugnoni)

When I called the phone number, a familiar voice answered.
‘Carlo,’ she exclaimed. ‘I’m so happy I found you.’

Beryl, then 82, told me she’d found an old photo album she wanted to give me. Meeting her a few days later, there was no mistaking her kind eyes. She gave me a warm hug and we chatted, flicking through the old photos. One of them was of the day she married her husband Harry and I was standing right beside her.

‘You were my first baby,’ she said.
‘I remember calling you Bebby because I couldn’t say Beryl,’ I laughed.

‘You were my first baby,’ she said.

Beryl had gone on to have two sons of her own, Tony and Glenn. While Harry sadly died young, she went on to marry Allan, and became a proud step-mum.

In the album, we found a pic of us with my teddy.
‘That’s your second birthday’, Beryl said. ‘I bought Teddy for you.’
‘Do you know I’ve still got him?’ I smiled, picturing him sitting on a chair at home. Beryl was delighted by the news and I realised how much it meant that I’d kept her gift. As I waved goodbye, I promised I’d visit again – and bring Teddy with me.

I did just that, and Beryl was thrilled. ‘Let’s take another photo,’ I suggested, so we recreated the picture from six decades before. From there, I made regular visits to see Beryl and our bond just grew stronger.

Me, Beryl and Teddy – I adored my Bebby
Me, Beryl and Teddy – I adored my Bebby (Credit: Carlo Brugnoni)

Five months after our reunion, my mum sadly passed away and Beryl was a huge support. But Beryl was ill herself and also very frail. I knew she didn’t have much time, and so did she. ‘It’s what prompted me to get in touch with you… before it was too late,’ she admitted.

She told me she’d love to share our story with her favourite mag – that’s life!. Beryl wrote a letter and enclosed a picture of us with Teddy. She planned to post it but sadly never got the chance.

I knew she didn’t have much time, and so did she.

In June last year, Beryl passed away. My heart ached, but I was comforted by the special moments we’d shared. At her funeral, the letter Beryl had written to that’s life! was read out. Hearing it was incredibly emotional.

I decided if I could find this little boy, I would like him to have the album, she’d written.

While Teddy sat by her coffin, Beryl’s family paid tribute to her loving heart. Later, with the blessing of Beryl’s family, I posted her letter and fulfilled her wish. So, as you read these words, know it’s what Beryl wanted. She would be thrilled that she – and Teddy – have put smiles on people’s faces.

Related stories