North County Leader

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Pen Friends Finally Meet After 50 Years

Pen Pal'sPictured in Donabate are Alice Nimmo and her long time Pen Pal, Christine Hardisty from New Zealand, both ladies where overjoyed when they came face to face after 50 years

Donabate lady, Alice Nimmo has had a lifetime’s ambition realised when she met her long time pen pal, Christine Hardisty for the first time recently.

Christine who travelled all the way from New Zealand to meet Alice, was overjoyed when they came face to face for the first time. The ladies began writing to each other over 50 years ago and the two friends are so proud of their long range relationship.

Alice, originally from Malaysia, is a retired occupational therapist, who came all the way from Malaysia to take part in an interview at Saint Joseph’s College of Occupational Therapy, in 1978. This coincided with the college opening it’s doors to one foreign student to attend and train to become an occupational therapist.

Luckily for her she was successful and was up against two others, one from Finland and the other from America, but it was Alice who was chosen and has been living in Donabate for the past 39 years, with a loving family and friends around her.

She told the County Leader, “When I was 12 and living in Malaysia, I wrote to a pen pal club looking for a pen friend. I had to tell them what my hobbies were and what my interests were. They gave me a name and address and I wrote the letter that would eventually put me in touch with Christine.”

“After a period of time had elapsed, I eventually got a reply and it was from Christine. She told me that she had found my letter on her way to school and placed it on the school notice board. She then noticed that after a couple of weeks, the letter was still there and she took it and opened it. She read the letter and didn’t know who it was to go to, so used her initiative and replied to me and we have been friends ever since.”
A delighted Alice told the County Leader, “I am so happy to finally meet Christine; she has been such a great friend to me over the last 50 years and to finally meet each other is great, we shared so many memories, despite not meeting face to face. We have always sent each other birthday presents, cards and Christmas presents including a peacock feather. These days there are not many pen pals, as most interaction takes place on the internet and not the old fashioned way of writing and posting a letter off.”

Christine who is a retired nurse said, “I was so excited coming to Ireland and to meet Alice, it was the most magical feeling when we met in Dublin Airport. We both knew each other instantly. We have been planning to meet over five years and now I must say the feeling for both of us was surreal,” she said.