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Two childhood best friends who last saw each other in 1951 have been reunited at a residential care home after more than 70 years apart.
Audrey Sishton and Margaret Moore, both 86, were thick as thieves in the same class at Belt Road School for girls in Cannock, Staffordshire, during the late 1940s and early 1950s.
However, they went their separate ways after finishing school, going on to marry and raise their own families.
Despite still living in the same area, the business of life meant Sishton and Moore last saw each other 71 years ago when they were both just 15-years-old.
But much to their joy, fate brought them together once again after more than seven decades apart when Sishton moved into Littleton Lodge care home in Hednesford, Staffordshire.
She temporarily moved into the facility while her property was undergoing repair work, and instantly spotted Moore. "I recognised her straight away. As soon as I said my name she remembered me too," said mum-of-one Sishton, who has lived alone since the loss of her late husband Harold in 1989.
They rekindled their friendship as though they had seen each other yesterday and reminisced about their time at school together, shortly after the end of the Second World War.
Staff made the occasion even more special with a vintage afternoon tea to allow Sishton and Moore the quality catch up time they deserved, enjoying cuppas, sandwiches, fruit cake and scones in between their endless chats.
Sishton added, "It was an incredible coincidence really.
"I'm disabled and had to move into the care home for five weeks while works were being done on my home.
“I left school at 15 and went straight into shop work so it was many years ago that we last saw each other.
“But, I knew her face straight away. She is exactly the same except for the grey hair."
She said it was "lovely to bump into Margaret again" and the pair "had some fascinating chats, remembering what we had got up to at school and filling each other in on the rest of our lives".
“I do remember that at school Margaret was definitely the cheeky one," she added.
With both women born in 1936, three years before the outbreak of World War Two, this coloured Sishton and Moore's younger years. And though it was over when they started secondary school in 1947, food rationing was still a big part of everyday life.
Moore, mum-of-four and grandmother-of-seven, has lived at the luxury care home since June 2021. “It was a real surprise when Audrey turned up at Littleton Lodge,' said the retired factory worker.
"I was here and Audrey just walked in," she said, echoing that that they "recognised each other straight away".
“Audrey said ‘I recognise you from years ago’," said Moore, describing the special moment.
“She hadn’t got any photographs, but she remembered my name.
"We had a lot of fun talking about our school days.”
Moore's son, Steve, 59, said, "My mum was was actually born within view of the care home she is in at the moment."
He said that after school, his mum "left there and went to work for the Swallow raincoats company in Hednesford where she pressed studs on raincoats".
"She did that job until the early 1960s when she started to have children," he explained.
"Then she raised four children and had 30 years off work before returning to work at a biscuit factory in Uttoxeter. She retired at 65 to spend more time with her husband Bob. He died in 2004 after 45 years of marriage. Together, they had four children, five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
"Audrey and Margaret having this chance reunion at this care home is an amazing story.
"It has totally taken my mum by surprise."
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Home manager Rachel Ellis, added: "It was heart-warming to see these two lovely ladies catching up after so long. After 71 years, they had much to talk about.
"It was certainly a shock to us all when Audrey revealed that Margaret was a bit cheeky at school.
"During her time at Littleton Lodge, she has been nothing but the picture of politeness."
Additional reporting SWNS.