Old pals pen a new chapter as they finally meet
IT started with buying a girls' magazine 53 years ago and has ended this summer with two pen pals from different ends of the country finally meeting face to face.
They say that the traditional method of pen and paper correspondence is slow compared to modern email but even Eirwen Heath did not expect a near lifetime to pass before she got around to meeting her letter writing pal, Susan Rowlands, in person.
However that is exactly what happened as the grandmother from Garden Village, Gorseinon, met up with her Yorkshire-based friend in the North Wales seaside resort of Llandudno last month.
Mrs Heath, who was Miss Thomas when she first wrote to Cleckheaton schoolgirl Susan, said: "When I was 12 I applied for a pen pal from School Friend girls' magazine and was linked with a girl of the same age with similar interests."
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Despite the distance the pair kept in touch as their lives parallelled each other's with the pair more or less simultaneously falling in love, getting married, having children and more recently, becoming grandmothers.
Mrs Heath said: "As teenagers we regularly corresponded throughout the years and we eventually started our careers, I went into banking and Susan into nursing. As time went by we met our prospective husbands and were married within one year of each other, and both had a son and daughter of similar ages."
The letters did slow while they raised their children but the bond was never broken.
"Our handwritten letters decreased to every Christmas and birthday, there is only a month between us, but neither of us ever forgot one another," said Mrs Heath.
The friends almost met before this summer but fate played a trick on them as Mrs Heath explained. "When our children were teenagers we visited Yorkshire for a four day break and were only staying three miles from Susan's home town. So, as we had never exchanged telephone numbers, armed with a bunch of flowers I called around, shaking at the knees, to find that she and her husband had also gone away for four days."
They are now making up for lost time with Mrs Heath, who is now 65, saying: "Our correspondence, still pen and paper, has increased enormously over the past five years, mainly due to us becoming grandparents, which, obviously sometimes brings many problems and concerns, and the closeness and feelings between the two of us has never been stronger."