Neighbours who were separated when married are ‘joined at the hip’ after 60-year reunion

Growing up neighbours in the 1940s, Irene Gresty and Janet Henderson were “joined at the hip”, best friends who went to school together and always stuck up for each other.

Sadly, they lost touch when they married, as Irene moved abroad with her husband, who was in the Royal Navy.

But after 60 years apart, Irene and Janet met again by chance at the age of 80, recognising each other immediately.

Irene said: “We sat down beside each other and she turned to me and said, ‘Is that you, Irene?’ I just laughed and said, ‘Yes, Janet’.

“We knew immediately who each other were. My heart really skipped a beat a little when we realised.”

Irene and Janet had grown up in Linlithgow, West Lothian, and Irene, who had lived abroad, including a spell in Singapore, moved back to the town six years ago to enjoy retirement close to home, where she still had family.

She moved into a sheltered housing complex three years ago, and often wondered about her old pal Janet, not realising she was living just minutes away in a different housing complex run by the same care home firm, Bield.

It was at an event organised by Bield that they finally met. Irene said: “I can’t believe my luck that it happened. I was delighted to have seen her again. We exchanged numbers so we have planned to arrange to meet up in the future. We have many years to catch up on.

“I moved back six years ago as my family still live here. I loved the area growing up so wanted to settle down to enjoy retirement. From speaking to people I’d known in the past, I found out Janet still lived in the area, but our paths hadn’t crossed.

“We were joined at the hip growing up as we were neighbours and also went to school together. We have many fond memories of sticking up for each other and playing in the park.”

Janet said: “People often move away from the area, and you lose contact, it’s the way life goes.

“We both got married and now have different surnames.

“I hadn’t thought anything of it when someone told me Irene had moved back to the area as I didn’t recognise the name, so when I saw her at the event it was pretty surreal.

“We exchanged numbers so I’m really looking forward to meeting up.”

Tracey Howatt, of Bield, said: “It’s lovely for the two ladies to reunite and it just shows, you never know when you’ll bump into an old friend again.”