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 Romford News Stories

Yesterday, 16:23
Snaresbrook Crown Court Pic: John Stillwell/PA

A business owner in Collier Row has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison after being found guilty of laundering cash totalling £166,000.

Yesterday, 16:36
Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) visited The Campion School to screen pupil's hearts for possible undetected defects. Tony Hill, family screening manager, Peter Patterson and Dr Rajay Narain

A father who lost his son to an undiagnosed heart condition returned to a school, last week, with free heart screening treatment.

Yesterday, 14:42
Cllr Alex Donald

An openly-gay councillor has set up Havering’s first LGBT forum to provide support and a place to meet.

Yesterday, 12:37
Havering's London Assembly member Keith Prince at Gallows Corner

London’s new mayor has said he will visit Gallows Corner to see traffic problems for himself.

Yesterday, 12:30
PC Craig Emmery helped out a RTC last week while off duty

An off-duty special constable has recalled the “surreal” moments he rushed to the aid of injured car drivers.

Yesterday, 10:54
Community Gardener Jesse Lock buliding a version of Rainham Hall for insects to use with local children and National Trust worker Brian Morrell

A wildlife expert has come up with a novel way to attract creepy crawlies to the garden of a historic hall – he’s built a bug hotel.

Yesterday, 07:00
Charlie Kutyauripo, 16, who was stabbed to death in Woodford Bridge. Photo: @MostAuthentic

A friend of Charlie Kutyauripo’s told the Old Bailey that he was stabbed to death due to an argument over a tracksuit.

Tue, 16:51
The planned map for the full night-tube service, with the central and Victoria lines due to open on August 19

It has been confirmed this week that Transport for London’s first all-night tube services will begin on August 19.

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

News from your area

WW100

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

Competitions

Win a BMW 1 series

There are fewer cars currently on the market more stylish and exciting than the BMW. Known all over the world as one of the best car manufacturers, the BMW is renowned for sleek designs and fantastic high quality workmanship.

Kindle 7 inch tablet

Are you looking for a brand new gadget to help you stay connected on the go and make that long journey home a bit more entertaining? Look no further. MyOffers is giving you the chance to win 1 of 50 Kindle Fire 7” Display Tablets! That’s 50 times more chances to win, so hurry up and enter our competition today and you could be one of our lucky winners!

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Romford Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe