IT WAS an emotional scene at the News & Mail offices on Monday when three school pals dropped by to thank us for reuniting them after more than 45 years.
A netball team photograph from 1949-50 was the catalyst to Josephine Plant, Janet Perry (nee Bushnell) and Rosie Reeves (nee West) finally getting together again, bringing with it tears of joy.
Now all aged 75, to see them laughing and chatting away it was hard to believe so many years had gone by.
Rosie said: “We came down on Saturday and were going to see Janet on Sunday, but I just couldn’t wait so we went there that afternoon. I was overcome with joy.”
The girls all went to Knaphill Secondary (now Knaphill Jun-ior) School but Rosie moved to the Midlands when she was 17 and they lost touch.
She had tried many times to make contact without success and had almost given up hope.
Her husband Dave said: “You don’t know what this means to Rosie – she’d been trying to get hold of Janet for years but hadn’t had any success. It’s thanks to your paper that at long last this has been made possible.”
It was Josephine who started the ball rolling after spotting herself in the under-14s team picture in the March 1 issue of the News & Mail.
Netball-mad Josephine got in touch with the paper and sent a copy of the article to Rosie, not knowing if the address she had for her old team-mate was still correct.
It was and Rosie received her copy of the story and rekindled their friendship. It gave her the idea of writing to the News & Mail asking for help in tracing another long-lost close school friend – Janet.
Her letter was published in the July 5 issue and Janet’s hus-band David contacted the paper and sent an email to Rosie with their phone number.
Rosie rang the same day. It happened to be Janet’s birthday and the call made it special.While in Woking Rosie went to see if the Burbank Children’s Home she had lived in for five years as a child was still in Starhill.
She said: “The building is still there but it’s not a children’s home any more.”
She also visited the house in Herbert Crescent, St Johns, where she lived after leaving the home and said: “A man of about 30 answered the door – he must have thought I was his grandmother.
“I told him I used to live there 50-odd years ago.
“It was interesting seeing it again. From the door I could see the layout of the house was just the same, but I didn’t go in – it didn’t feel right.
“I could see the big, long garden where I used to sit for hours on my own – upset.
“I had a terrible life. I was very neglected.”
Janet agreed: “It was awful. I was one of the lucky ones, having mum and dad there.”
Rosie explained: “My mum just wasn’t capable. She had seven children and my dad died when I was 10. She really didn’t look after us. We’d pick up potatoes off the street to eat. In the end they put us in homes. But Janet was my strong friend at school.
“When I went into the home I was covered in fleas and they sorted me out. I was only three stone when I was 10 – I was malnourished and ill for weeks.
“When I think about the lifeI had then and what I’ve achieved and done since, I realise it made me stronger. Janet’s mum took me under her wing and Janet gave me a lot of courage.
“But you wouldn’t believe some of the things we got up to – especially Janet.”
Janet said: “I was playing hookie most of the time.”
Josephine, from Worplesdon, brought along a couple of old photos and said: “I wouldn’t have known Janet now.”
The three of them giggled and reminisced as they recognised themselves and others in the pictures – Josephine saying: “Look at Jean Cox’s knickers!”
Rosie’s husband Dave said: “They just see each other as they were back then – as if they were 14 again.”