A South Yorkshire couple who lost touch more than 30 years ago after a teenage holiday romance are preparing to marry.
Mandy Ashforth was aged just 17 when she met 19-year-old Barrie Moat in Bridlington in 1982.
Following a week-long romance, the pair, who both lived in Rotherham, agreed to meet at a set time and place – but Barrie never turned up.
Mandy, aged 48, said: “We had spent all of our time together that holiday and, as he walked me to my coach, we arranged to meet in Rotherham bus station the following week.
“I waited for two hours but he never came. I was devastated.”
Barrie, 50, said: “I couldn’t make the date and, being in the days before mobile phones and without her home phone number or address, I had no way of contacting her to let her know.”
Heartbroken and thinking she had been snubbed, Mandy admitted she looked out for Barrie everywhere she went in the months that followed.
Eventually she had to let him go and move on.
She went on to marry another man and have a family – but never forgot her first love.
Then, in January 2012, she searched Facebook and was stunned to find him.
The mother-of-five said: “I recognised that cheeky face straight away and sent him a ‘friend request’ and he accepted.
“I have been married before and Barrie had a partner and a child, but both our relationships broke up. I suppose it was meant to be.
“We started messaging and it became obvious the bond between us was still there and was becoming stronger each day, so eventually we decided to meet after 31 years apart.
“It was the scariest thing I have ever done.
“As soon as I saw Barrie, I knew all my hopes and dreams had come true.
“A couple of weeks later we decided to go back to where it all started, in Bridlington, and had a lovely weekend together.”
Barrie, a keen angler, said: “I never normally accept ‘friend requests’ from women unless they’re something to do with fishing.
“Things very quickly clicked into place. It was just too good to be true. We both knew we had met the right person – I only wish I knew that 30 years ago.”
Wasting no time at all, Barrie decided to pop the question in August and the couple plan to marry next July.