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  • Margaret Thomas

Finding your ancestors

I never met Thomas Ryan my paternal grandfather. Born in St. Helen's in 1879 and dying in Manchester in 1945 he was just a name. When I started researching my family tree I uncovered a touching story of poverty and a life disrupted by the First World War. After losing his first wife just after their daughter was born Thomas worked in the glass industry while his mother looked after his daughter.

When the War came along he joined up and was sent to Wales to train. It is unclear how it happened but Thomas was shot in the spine during a training incident.

Photograph of Thomas Ryan having electrotherapy 1879-1945

This left him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He went to live at Broughton House in Manchester. Where at sometime in the 1920's he had electrotherapy treatment

presumably to stimulate his muscles.

It was here that he met my grandmother, Margaret Nuttall, who was a visitor. They married in 1923 but Thomas continued to live at Broughton House going to the house in Moss Side at weekends to spend time with his wife and later son (my father) and daughter. This was practical from an economic point of view as it was free for Thomas, even if it was hard. Father and son would go to see Manchester City football team play, sitting by the pitch with Thomas senior in his wheelchair my father at his side.

He died in 1945 at Broughton House, Manchester where he had spent most of his adult life.

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