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Video: Cranham war veteran returns to Palais de Dance 72 years after first meeting his wife

PUBLISHED: 13:01 09 March 2015 | UPDATED: 15:06 12 March 2015

Tom Harvey at the Quadrant Arcade which used to be Palais de Dance where he met his wife, with his family Sally Mathie (grandaughter), Sue Baker (Daughter), Sarah Crow (Niece), Alex Mathie, eight and Max Mathie, six (Great grandsons) and Phil Mathie (grandson in law)

Tom Harvey at the Quadrant Arcade which used to be Palais de Dance where he met his wife, with his family Sally Mathie (grandaughter), Sue Baker (Daughter), Sarah Crow (Niece), Alex Mathie, eight and Max Mathie, six (Great grandsons) and Phil Mathie (grandson in law)

Archant

A 90-year-old man took a trip down memory lane as he revisited the place where he first met his wife 72-years-ago.

Calls and emails from Recorder readers flooded in after Tom Harvey of Lichfield Terrace, Cranham, was featured in the paper on February 6.

He was searching for the Palais de Dance where he first locked eyes with his future wife Violet Harley.

The location of the dance hall was converted flats above the Quadrant Arcade, in Market Place, Romford. Tom – accompanied by his family and Recorder reporter Hayley Anderson – finally went back to where it all began this weekend.

He said: “It’s been lovely how so many people have come forward to let me know where the Palais de Dance was. I’ve been stopped in the street lots of times when I’m walking about – I feel like a celebrity.”

Before the family made their way to the Quadrant Arcade, Tom was given a surprise over a discount lunch, provided by Pizza Express in The Brewery.

The pensioner was a bomb disposal officer during the Second World War but didn’t receive any special recognition for his effort. So his daughter Sue Baker, applied for his war medal six months ago and was able to hand over the medallion to Tom on Saturday.

He said: “I am very happy to see it after all of these years – it will be good for the boys [great -grandchildren Alex, eight, and Max, six] to have as they’ll appreciate it when they grow up.”

The moment then came Tom to come face to face with the Palais de Dance more than 70 years after his last visit.

He said: “It doesn’t look anything like it used to. I remember the last time I was here, there were buses running up and down the street.

“Nothing stays the same unfortunately.”

Tom and his family were also welcomed to The Workshop in the Quadrant Arcade where they were shown an old photograph of the dance hall’s entrance in 1950.

He said: “I want to say thank you to everyone who has helped make this such a great day.

“My Violet was a lovely lady and I can never replace her but she has left me a wonderful family who I love very much.”


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