A homeless man was reunited with his long-lost brother thanks to a chance meeting on the streets of Wigan.

Roy Aspinall, 36, was walking home from a Remembrance Sunday commemoration when he noticed a familiar figure sleeping rough in a parish churchyard.

Upon striking up a conversation with the man he realised it was his half-brother, Billy White, who he had not seen in 25 years. Roy says he instantly recognised the facial similarities of Billy.

"The recognition of his face was there. I thought I had to see who he was. He seemed to be on the streets because he had his little bag and sleeping bag," Roy said to the Wigan Observer.

"I went over, offered him a cigarette and starting having a chat. I asked some questions, if he knew this person in the family. I was talking to a complete stranger but was trying to get answers and eventually asked if he was William.

"He said yes but they called him Billy. I rang my sister who I had got to know at the beginning of the year and we confirmed it. She hadn't seen him for 15 years and the last time I'd seen him he must have been just starting to walk."

28-year-old Billy did not immediately see the similarities between himself and Roy and was reluctant to believe his story. However, as Roy described their shared background he came to realise the two were indeed long-lost brothers and had the same mother.

"I always knew I had an older brother, my mum spoke about him a lot. She had explained everything to me but I didn't know anything about him to pinpoint him or even if he lived in the same area," Billy said.

"I was nervous and a bit scared at first, we both were, and I'm still pretty shocked by everything. It's so weird saying 'brother' or 'uncle'. It's something I've never had. He's also told me about his side of the family and I've told him about mine," said Billy.

The brothers are now living at Roy's Stranraer Road home while somewhere is found for Billy to live permanently. They are being supported by Eds, a Wigan-based charity for veterans and their families.

The two have battled similar issues with addiction and mental health during their lives.

Billy was raised by their mother until the age of 10 until he was put into foster care by local authorities. He was often in trouble with the law and spent time in prison when he was just 17.

Their mother Lorraine became pregnant with Roy in 1980 and was pressured to give him up for adoption. Roy was subsequently raised by his aunt thinking that she was his mother and his cousins were his siblings.

Previously Roy also spent time homeless but credits his time in the Army for helping put him on the right path.

Billy said: "Our mum was amazing, she wouldn't hurt a fly and she was the sweetest woman going. I wish Roy could have met her, things could have been different."

EDS Charity
Billy and Roy, both at front, smile at a meeting of homeless charity EDs EDs