Reunited after 30 Years
Finding Alana was truly a highlight of my life. She was someone I'd never forgotten from school and I always remembered her as a true and loyal friend. She was very kind and I remember the day during our time in Penang that she gave me the gift of a silver chain bracelet with my name engraved on it. I also remember how gracious she was when I handed back one of her borrowed exercise books - damaged! I had got caught in the rain and the ink writing inside had run and the pages were spoiled. I felt terrible when I returned it to her like that. However, Alana being Alana, simply laughed it off and said it didn't matter at all. She made nothing of it and I always remember that kindness.
On another occasion she was also very caring after I took a fall in a friend's back yard. I couldn't walk and Alana carefully wheeled me home on my bicycle. That was a fairly serious incident where my lower back was fractured and I was laid up in bed for 3-4 days until the weekend. I was most anxious to be well by then as there was a Joey's dance on and I was very keen to go! Fortunately, I did heal well enough and in good time to attend the dance.
How We Found Each Other
So, after many years of recalling my time in Penang and wishing I could find some of my old friends again, I took the pro-active step of writing to the Women's Weekly magazine with a notice to try to find Alana. Bless them if they didn't publish it a couple of issues later in June 1998, and bless Alana for telephoning me two days after its release. The advertisement is shown below.
We were both thrilled to find each other! Tears of joy flowed as we tried to quickly catch up on the past 30 years all at once. Alana had kept the 1970 RAAF School magazine for me for all those years, which I'd asked her to get for me, but after we'd come home to Australia and lost touch I'd forgotten that I'd ever asked her for it. We spent many hours on the telephone nearly daily since that first call and planned a reunion meeting in Canberra later in the year.
More Friends Found
At this time I was pleased to also hear from some people from RAAF School who saw the advertisement telephoned me, including Katie Harrison, Deborah Jones, Robynne Dally-Watkins, Jane Coleman and Dianne Yeomans. Dianne was at the time living in the very next suburb to me!
I subsequently went to Canberra to meet with Alana. We hugged and cried when we met at the airport and then she drove me to her home where I spent the next few days with her. We talked constantly and had an absolutely delightful time reminiscing and getting to know each other again. It was lovely to see Canberra too and to shop our hearts out at the various rubber stamping shops, a passion we were delighted to find we shared. We had a wonderful reunion, sharing our memories and catching up on lost years.
Another good thing that came out of this trip was that we met up with Sally Fisher! Sally was in our year in Penang also and we had a fun-filled afternoon when Sally came to visit. We are seen below poring over the RAAF School magazine, photograph albums and my diary in Alana's kitchen.
WOMEN'S WEEKLY Follow-Up
I wrote to the Women's Weekly to thank them for placing the advertisement for me and they subsequently contacted me to publish a follow-up article on our reunion.
Alana in Canberra
Alana and I remain in contact and always will. Many friendships were born at RAAF School and as time passes, those friendships become more and more precious. I hope that many more friends can be reunited through this website and at our school reunions. Treasure those friendships because, as the immortal words of John Donne remind us: "No man is an island".
During my reunion visit to Alana in Canberra in 1998, we caught up with another friend from those years in Penang - Sally Fisher (now Cooke)! The three of us had a delightful reunion over lunch at Alana's home. As seen here, we enjoyed reminiscing over school magazines, photographs and my diary!
elder sister Amanda also lives nearby in Canberra and we all met up at the reunion event.