Reunited in retirement

20 December 2022

Royce Cheeseman and Judy Killalea

After searching for her long-lost cousin for more than 20 years, Gulf Rise resident Judy Killalea couldn’t believe her luck when she spotted Royce Cheeseman featured in the winter edition of Metlifecare’s The Villager magazine.

“I nearly fell over backwards when I turned the page and saw Royce’s face staring back at me,” says Judy.

Having lost contact when their parents sadly passed away, Judy thought she had exhausted every avenue when it came to finding her cousin.

“I searched everywhere to try and find Royce. I tried looking him up in the White Pages and on Facebook, I even drove to his brother’s home in Whangarei, only to find he had moved on.”

Despite not seeing her cousin for more than two decades, Judy recognised him instantly in The Villager magazine.

“I read the story featuring Royce’s family and learnt that we were both living in Metlifecare villages, less than 30 minutes away from each other. What are the chances!”

“As children we lived much further apart than we do now, but we remained close and enjoyed spending holidays together, bonded by our love for our Gran, climbing Mount Eden and playing pranks on each other.”

Seeing one another for the first time in many years has been an emotional experience for the pair.

“Royce’s wife Gaylene and daughter Michele, arranged a surprise lunch. My brother came with me which was really special as I know it meant a lot to him too to reconnect with our cousin. There were many tears.”

For Royce, the welcomed family reconnection is the second in the past seven years since living at Greenwich Gardens.

“I was at happy hour one evening and I got chatting to a gentleman. I recognised his last name, so I got out my family tree and turns out we are distant cousins, too!” says Royce.

For now, the newly reunited duo have much to catch up on.

“We’re working our way back together. You don’t know how the relationship will be after so long. People change. But luckily for us, it’s like no time has passed between us at all,” says Royce.

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