How letters struck the right note for golden duo [Evening Gazette (UK)]
(Evening Gazette (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) A SOLDIER'S pen pal proved the perfect match when he returned from duty in Hong Kong.
Back in the summer of 1959, Bernard Milburn - a Private with The Green Howards - started exchanging letters with a girl his aunt knew.
The letters kept coming so that by the time Bernard sailed back home, he was eager to meet Knaresborough book-binder Megan Norris.
By chance, a reporter was on the ship, HMS Fowey, quizzing soldiers about their Hong Kong experiences and what they were looking forward to when they got home.
And, as an Evening Gazette of the time reported, Bernard said: "I shall meet Megan at my aunt's home. Marriage We've not discussed that and we don't know whether we'll like each other when we meet."
Well, they obviously did like each other because on March 9, 1963, they got married at St Peter's Church in Redcar.
And today, they'll be celebrating their golden wedding with a family party and a host of memories but, sadly, none of those original letters.
The couple, of Tees Road, Redcar, lost them years ago. But written reminders aren't needed to confirm their devotion to each other.
Recalling their pen pal relationship, Megan, 71, said: "I worked in a printer's with his aunty. She'd discussed him a few times and said I should write to him. I thought "I'll give it a go" and it went from there.
"I didn't expect an answer but when one arrived, I got into trouble at home for writing to a soldier until I explained he knew Aunty Peggy.
"We wrote every week for nearly a year after that." Bernard, who was a British Steel bulldozer driver after leaving the army, laughed: "I had to borrow some paper and an envelope to write back. It was more out of politeness than anything - there wasn't a photo in there or anything!" On Bernard's return from Hong Kong, Megan travelled through to Teesside to meet him at last - and guess who was waiting at the bus station for her.
"He turned up in his uniform - I thought he was lovely."
Bernard, too, was impressed. He recalls: "I thought she was very nice - it was love at first sight."
The couple got engaged on June 6, 1960, but it wasn't until three years later that they finally tied the knot. They went on to have two daughters, Susan and Louise, and continue to be each other's best friend.
Never going to bed on an argument and never arguing about money has served them well.
But Bernard, 74, admits: "I never dreamed, after getting that first letter, we'd be sitting here now. And I don't regret a single day."
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