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Transatlantic pen pals celebrate 50-year friendship

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Former Thatcham woman and Kennet School pupil wants old classmates to get in touch for the celebration

A FORMER Thatcham pupil who formed a pen pal friendship with an American 50 years ago, as part of a school project, is now planning to host a party to welcome her friend to the UK. Sixty-three-year-old Maureen Baillie (née Haines), of The Haven, Kintbury, is asking anyone

who knew her from her time at Kennet School in the early 1960s or from Colthrop Board Mills, where she later worked, to get in touch to help her celebrate the 50th anniversary of her overseas friendship.

In 1961, aged 13, Mrs Baillie and her classmates were asked whether they wanted to take part in a pen pal project, an opportunity at which Mrs Baillie jumped.

She was paired with Californian Sherry Brinkerhoff, and they have been writing to each other ever since.

Now Mrs Baillie wants to hear from any of her former school friends who are also still in touch with their pen pals.

Mrs Baillie said: “I didn't think it was going to go on this long; I thought it would just tail off.

“Sometimes we won't write for six weeks, sometimes it will be twice in a week, but she has always been there for me.”

She added: “I'm absolutely pleased that I did it – there are some things in life you remember. “I'm an only child and so I think I latched on to the idea of having a sister, but this is far more unique than having a sister.

“A sister is very special but they are blood related; she is a sister without being blood related.”

Mrs Baillie said that as a teenager she would tell Mrs Brinkerhoff things she would not dare tell he parents and that over the years they had become good friends.

They have met up a couple of times and Mrs Baillie was a bridesmaid at Mrs Brinkerhoff's wedding.

She said they had both been there for each other through difficult periods in their lives and added: “It has been very important to my life; I have shared things that I would not share with other people and she has done the same with me.

“The party really is going to be special for the both of us.”

Anyone who wishes to go to the party on Sunday should contact Mrs Baillie by telephoning (01488) 658519 or email roymo@gmx.com

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