Great gran has been writing to pen friend for 72 years

Nona Avery, from Sheffield, 84 has been hand writing letters to her pen friend longest than most people live, sending over a 1,000 letters…

In 1942 I saw an advert in the Girl’s crystal annual for girl’s who lived all over the world, who wanted a pen friend.

One advert caught my eye it was for a girl called Alice who was also twelve and lived in Columbus, Ohio in America. It sounded so exotic and so far away. I immediately began to write a letter and posted it.

A couple of weeks later I received a reply with a picture. It was astounding to have a new friend on the other side of the world.

From that day on I couldn’t wait for my next dispatch to drop through the letter box. I wanted to catch up on Alice’s life over in the states.

We might have lived 1,000’s of miles away but we had so much in common, we liked the same books, films and we exchanged fashion magazines, but they were very expensive to send, so we couldn’t afford to do it for too long.

I would write a letter or two a month, and would write page after page, discussing my life. Telling Alice about boy’s I liked and other secrets I wouldn’t tell anyone else.

We were growing up together.

As we got older we both met partners. I married Stan in1952. Alice’s partner was Ted and they married 1956.

I have two children Julie,56 and John,53, four grandchildren Lauren, 29, Joe, 24, Steven, 26 and Ashley, 25 and two great grandchildren, they are Daisy, 6 and Daniel, 4.

Alice has three children and three grandchildren.

However, not everything has been great, I remarried in 1973 and lost my second husband Peter, in 2003. Alice lost her partner Ted, two years ago.

However, I know that Alice’s letter will comfort me. Our correspondences share sadness, happiness and everything in between.

We have even met twice. In 1987 Alice flew to England and stayed with me in Sheffield. I was nervous that we wouldn’t get on in person, but we hit it off straight away, but it was a bit strange at first to be able to see the person I had been writing to, for decades.

I took Alice to the beautiful Peak district and the stately home Chatsworth House. She loved the windswept countryside.

She even met and talked to Prince Andrew and Fergie when they were doing a walkabout in Sheffield city centre. So she met royalty, not many people can say that!

It was sad to see her leave.

But as ever, we kept writing to each other. Then in 1991 I flew out to Columbus, Ohio, to meet Alice and see how she lived and meet her family. I visited the house where I first wrote to her, which is in Cincinnati, 100 miles from where she now lived. And we watched a baseball game, which I enjoyed immensely.

We have been best friends since childhood and walked the path of time together, from opposite sides of the world.

I’m so glad I wrote that first letter that day 72 years ago, we must have written over 1,000 letters to each other. We have been writing to each other longer than most people live.

My daughter Julie even tracked down the Girl’s crystal annual for girls, from that year, which was really nice.

We are not getting any younger, but we still write to each other. We always write by hand, never by email. Why change a habit of a lifetime?!

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