A LYME REGIS musician was shocked to find out he has more than 3,000 long-lost Italian relatives after finding out his great-grandfather was not who he thought he was.

Singer-songwriter Bob Brooker has had to make the birthday card list a bit longer this year after discovering more than 3,000 lost relatives.

During lockdown Bob decided to research his family tree on Ancestry.com and gave a DNA sample to the company, which can be shared with anyone who shares DNA.

He was then contacted by a man named Jack Torch, who told him: "It looks like we're related," but the pair could not find a common ancestor.

Jack's grandfather was called Antonio Tocci, an Italian organ grinder known as 'Mr Torch', who had lived opposite Bob's great-grandmother Annie.

A DNA test confirmed that Tocci was also Bob's great-grandfather and that Tocci fathered at least 13 other children in Victorian London.

Bob, 72, is now part of a very big Italian family – so he is releasing a record celebrating the Latin lover who had a secret romance with his grandmother.

The number of living descendants from those children, Bob’s new and highly-unexpected relations, now totals 3,136.

“All my life I had believed that I was descended from my great granny Annie Webster and her husband Thomas Woombell, a working-class couple from nineteenth century Tooting,” said Bob, a retired senior computer engineer.

“But my search on Ancestry.com and a subsequent DNA test has revealed that my actual great granddad was an Italian immigrant from Frosinone called Antonio Tocci, who settled in South London and worked as a locally-popular ice cream salesman and organ grinder.

“It appears that Great Granny Annie got a bit too close to Antonio’s organ grinding while my supposed Great Grandad Tom was away from home, serving in the Royal Marines in the 1890s.

“I was only looking just for fun and I was surprised to learn after 70 years that I am part-Italian."

He added: “So I began looking into who Antonio Tocci was and it turns out that he was quite a lad, with 12 official children of his own and popular on the streets of Victorian Tooting, where he was locally known to everyone as ‘Mr Torch’.

“If I was a novelist I’d have written a book about it, as it’s a great story, but as I’m a songwriter I wrote a song about it instead."

Bob is set to release the song, Me And Mr Torch, on Spotify to tell the tale of the organ grinder who was quite a little monkey.

“There’s so many in my new-found family that if all of my relatives each buy a copy, it’ll be a hit,” said Bob.

“It’s quite a catchy, Italian-influenced tune so perhaps it will get everybody dancing at a great big family reunion, if we can find a venue big enough to fit us all in!”

Mindful of his new heritage, Bob, who moved on retirement from South London to Lyme Regis, West Dorset, had AI translate the lyrics into Italian, so that he and his new family can sing along with the chorus in their ancestral tongue.

The chorus of Me And Mr Torch goes:

“Oh, why oh why does he matter to me

In 1879 he came from Italy

DNA, was the secret key

Little did I know he’s related to me.”

Now becomes:

“Oh, perché, oh perché importa a me

Nel milleottocentosettantanove, da l'Italia è giunto qui

DNA, il segreto è lì

Ignoravo che parente di me fosse qui.”

Me and Mr Torch by Bob Brooker will be released on Spotify and online stores on Friday, February 2.