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Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Lost Friend Found.

During the morning of Sunday 9th February 2014 I answered a telephone call and heard “Hello Elliot it's Phil Barling”.

That's nothing special you are possibly thinking – but it is. It was over forty years ago that I last spoke to him.

He and I were friends at our secondary school and after I moved to Stelling Minnis in Kent, his home village, in 1964 our friendship grew stronger. I enlisted into the army in October 1967. I think I last saw him in early 1968. I've often wondered what he might have been doing since I left.

In the summer of 2010 I made a return trip to the area to see if he was still living in the bungalow next to the local shop. The only information I obtained – wrong as it now turns out – was that he had moved to Folkestone, my early childhood town. I used the internet to try to locate him. I Googled his name along with 'Folkestone' – but no joy. I tried '', in particular our old school of Brockhill in Saltwood, Kent – but no joy.

In November 2013 I came across the Stelling Minnis Village Website and the Parish Magazine. I wrote to the Editor in the hope that through the website or the magazine I might obtain details of Phil's whereabouts. My letter, entitled 'Can you help' was published in the January 2014 issue.

On the 20th January I received an email from a lady called Evelyn Simpson: “Have you managed to track down Phil Barling? I used to play with Phil’s sister, Jill in the mid 60’s, and I may be able to track his whereabouts through her daughter.” I confirmed I needed her help.

On the 30th January, Evelyn wrote to me again giving me Phil's email address, which she had obtained from his niece.

I wrote to him on the 1st February: “...I thought it could be good to be in contact and reminisce about those times [our teenage years up to October 1967] and what our lives have been since then. I started to draft a long email about my past but decided I wouldn't send it, at this time, because you may not be interested. It would be good to hear from you, but can understand if you choose not to reply.”

One week passed and I hadn't received a reply. I began to assume that as I had been the one to break up our friendship he didn't want to get back in contact.

His telephone call on Sunday 9th February proved me wrong. It was fantastic to speak to him. We chatted for forty minutes as if it had only been forty weeks – not forty years – since we'd talked. It won't be the last time.

I've already expressed my thanks direct to Nick Smith of the Stelling Minnis Parish Magazine, and the good-hearted Evelyn Simpson. However, I want to thank them publicly; for without their assistance I would still be searching for a long-lost friend.

© Elliot Sampford 2014

1 comment:

  1. Perseverance pays off! How nice that you have new renewed an old friendship.


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