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Man swaps homes with a complete stranger – and makes incredible discovery | UK News

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Man swaps homes with a complete stranger – and makes incredible discovery | UK News

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Man swaps homes with a complete stranger – and makes incredible discovery | UK News


Mark Sallin and Simon Sanders discovered they are related (Picture: PA)

A dad who swapped homes with complete strangers for a weekend holiday was stunned to discover they were actually long lost relatives.

Mark Sallin and his wife used HomeExchange back in 2014 to look for somewhere to stay in London while those residents looked after their own home in Shrewsbury.

Mark and wife Helen met the homeowners, Simon and Jo Sanders, in May of that year, and curiously he noticed that Simon had some similar mannerisms to his father.

He thought nothing of it – until Simon emailed him in March 2015 saying he had discovered they are actually related.

A family tree revealed the two men share the same great-grandfather, Louis Salinsky, originally from Russia – and since the ‘amazing’ revelation, the two families have met up several times.

Mark, a dad of four, said: ‘Genuinely, you can’t even put it into numbers – one in 10million? One in 50million?

Simon with Mark’s son William at an Arsenal match in September 2022 (Picture: PA)
They are right next to each other on the family tree (Picture: PA)
The two families and friends met for lunch in 2022 (Picture: PA)

‘Sometimes it might be your fourth or fifth cousin, but we were literally next to each other on the family tree.

‘We might have never found it – it’s just the fact that I’ve got an unusual second name that he spotted it. It’s just mad.’

Simon added: ‘I was surprised, but in a way, not shocked because it all seemed to make sense having met them – I felt immediately at home and comfortable doing the home swap with them.

‘For us, this was our first home swap in the UK, it was great for a weekend, and the benefit was also that we were having people looking after our house and our pets as well.’

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Mark and Helen signed up for HomeExchange, which was then called LoveHomeSwap, to travel with their four children on a budget. Members pay an annual £180 fee but nothing for the accommodation.

They’ve since swapped eight times across the UK, and are exchanging with a family in the Netherlands next month.

‘With our home life with four kids, it’s always difficult to find accommodation – it’s obviously expensive – so we thought this would be a good opportunity,’ Mark said.

Leading up to their fateful swap in 2014, Mark explained: ‘We didn’t actually expect anyone to do this. It’s always exciting for us country folk to go to London and we thought we’d go for the weekend while we can carry Henry – who was three months old at the time – around.

‘When we arrived there were many idiosyncrasies that reminded me of my dad and then they went up to Shrewsbury.

‘They had a good time, we said our thank yous at the end, and that was that.’

Around 10 months later, Mark received an email out of the blue from Simon, with an attachment of a picture of a family tree.

Mark described reading the email as an ‘Oh my God’ moment – and after looking at the family tree, he discovered they share the same great-grandfather, Louis Salinsky.

After World War II, Mark explained that this Jewish surname was ‘Anglicised’, changing from Salinsky to Sallin and Sanders respectively.

Helen (front) and Mark (back) pictured with three of their children, Florence (left), and twins William and Edward (Picture: PA)
Mark (left), his son William (middle), and Simon (right) on the first meet-up (Picture: PA)

The email from Simon, sent on March 14 2015, reads: ‘I was just showing my son the family tree and we decided to look for someone who was about my age but at the other end of the tree (so to speak).

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‘Anyhow, we followed across from my grandfather Emmanuel to his brother Bertie through male descendants and ended up with Mark Sallin who married Helen Bishop.

‘I thought, I recognise those names, and looking into it and back at my emails realised that these two are surely you two!

‘Seems a jolly good reason to get in touch again – thought you would be as amazed as I was!’

Mark said he replied, saying, ‘I can’t believe this’, and the two exchanged several emails before meeting up again in 2018 and later going to a football match at Wembley.

The two families have continued to stay connected and see each other when they can, and Mark has since done his own research into his heritage, taking a DNA test with family history site Ancestry.

Speaking about connecting with Simon and Jo, Mark said: ‘It did ignite my interest (to find out more about my heritage) because I hadn’t really delved into it.

‘It’s a very difficult family tree to dig into because of the ever-changing geographical borders in eastern Europe and there are not a lot of records past about 1840, but it’s really interesting.

‘It exposes you to a different world.’

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

For more stories like this, check our news page.


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