Search

Pair united over Twiggy and To Sir With Love: Aussie gran searches for long-lost Rush Green pen pal

18:00 26 January 2014

Lucy Chan (back L) with her husband and three grandchildren

Lucy Chan (back L) with her husband and three grandchildren

Archant

Before the internet, the ancient art of letter writing kept us in touch across the globe – which is how Lucy Chan, who lives about as far from Romford as anyone can, became interested in our town.

Lucy Chan, née Ling, in 1963 when she was corresponding with Helen TomlinsonLucy Chan, née Ling, in 1963 when she was corresponding with Helen Tomlinson

A resident of Brisbane, Australia, who grew up in Malaysia, Lucy began writing to her penfriend Helen Tomlinson, who lived in Dagenham and later Romford, in 1958.

Lost touch

They lost touch nearly 50 years ago, but now she’d love to get back in touch with the girl she used to write to excitedly about Twiggy and To Sir With Love.

“I think I found Helen for a penfriend in a magazine called School Friend,” remembers Lucy, whose maiden name was Ling.

“We started corresponding and wrote regularly through the years – as often as I could afford the stamps and air letters.”

But the pair lost touch after Lucy – now a grandmother – moved to a different town for her education.

She ended up in Kuala Lumpur, where she studied English at university, before meeting her husband and eventually emigrating to Australia in 1984.

She is now retired, and volunteers as an English teacher.

“I remember sending Helen bits of rubber sheets,” said Lucy, 67, “because my father had a rubber processing and smoking factory.

“Helen sent me beautiful postcards of places in the UK. I think we also exchanged postage stamps.

“My husband and I have visited the UK several times and I have always wondered where Helen is now.”

Lucy’s life in Malaysia would have been a stark contrast to Helen’s childhood in what was then suburban Essex – but just like youngsters today they found common ground in popular culture.

“We enjoyed sharing our experiences growing up in such different environments – yet the pop songs of the day, the fashion icons like Twiggy and movies like To Sir With Love connected us as teenagers,” said Lucy.

“She enriched my life and now I have the time to reconnect with old friends, it would be great to find her again. I think it would be a surprise to Helen to hear from me again – from the bottom of the world this time!”

If you know Helen and would like to get in touch with Lucy, call 020 8477 3778 or news.desk@romfordrecorder.co.uk

0 comments

Latest News Stories

53 minutes ago
Highfield estate is to be redeveloped by the council

“A complete waste of taxpayers money,” “crass” and “a stupid idea.”

Yesterday, 18:07
Police want to speak to Michael Cawley. Picture: Essex Police

Police have launched an investigation after a man was found with head injuries at a traveller’s site.

Yesterday, 17:00
 Fatal crash scene Rainham Road, Hornchurch.

Friends and colleagues have paid tribute to a 24-year-old who was killed on Monday night when his Ford Focus hit a lamppost in Hornchurch.

Yesterday, 16:39
Some of the damage caused at Noak Hill Victory Hall last weekend

A community is calling for help to find whoever is responsible for breaking into and trashing their hall.

Most read news

WW100

Click on the banner above for full coverage of the centenary commemorations of the outbreak of the First World War.

News from your area

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Romford Recorder e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24
Our trusted business finder

The robot is an extension of the surgeon’s arms – it’s not doing anything independently.

The rise is levelling off but we can’t be complacent, say researchers.

The lollipop man has been unable to return to work since the attack.

Finding the jet remains a priority for Malaysia.