Doreen and Charlotte - penfriends for life

Doreen Gray, left, with her American Pan Friend, Charlotte, who first contacted each other in 1946.
Doreen Gray, left, with her American Pan Friend, Charlotte, who first contacted each other in 1946.
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THERE can’t be many friendships which have stood the test of time as well as that of Doreen Gray and Charlotte Boyd.

They’ve been pals for 66 years - but have only ever met four times.

That’s because they live 4,000 miles apart.

It was January 1946 when Doreen, then aged 12, spotted an appeal for pen friends in a foreign newspaper she found in the library at Arbourthorne North Secondary School in Sheffield.

She picked up a pen and wrote a note to a girl called Charlotte who lived across the Atlantic in Minnesota, USA.

Weeks later Doreen was delighted to receive a reply - and the two have written to each other ever since to exchange their news and bits of gossip.

But the ladies never met until 11 years ago when Charlotte first made the trip from the States to meet Doreen.

Then Doreen’s husband Norman said he’d like to treat her to a special gift - and the special thing Doreen chose was to repay the visit.

The ladies have now visited each other twice and each time they have become a little closer.

Doreen, now 78, who has one child, three stepchildren and six grandchildren, is three months older than her friend.

She said: “We have a lot in common and Charlotte is just such a wonderful person to be around. She loves coming to South Yorkshire, and likes the food.

“We’ve been to quite a few places around about - and she’s particularly looking forward to attending her first pie and pea supper.”

Charlotte’s sister Charlene, who lives in California, has also been writing to a pen pal in near Sheffield for 68 years.

She was due to travel with her sister and then stay with her pen friend Margaret Barker in Killamarsh but unfortunately was not well enough to travel.

“It’s a real pity that they both couldn’t make it,” said Doreen. But we’re still having a great time.”

Doreen, who now lives in East Bawtry Road, Brecks, Rotherham, says she won’t be visiting her friend’s home in Minnesota again though she hopes Charlotte will come to Sheffield again.

She said: “The last time I went to the States we had a really bad flight over Atlanta. It was so bumpy that when we touched down I said to Norman ‘no more flights’. But I hope to see Charlotte again and we’ll keep writing.”