'Never give up hope' say childhood sweethearts from Sheffield finally tying the knot after 35 years apart

Carol and Neil say it felt like they had never been apart when they were finally reunited
Carol and Neil say it felt like they had never been apart when they were finally reunited
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In a real-life romance plucked from the pages of a Hollywood screenplay, childhood sweethearts from Sheffield are preparing to tie the knot after 35 years apart.

Love first blossomed between Carol Guest and Neil Wainwright as 15-year-olds at Myers Grove School (now Forge Valley School) in Stannington.

The happy couple today

The happy couple today

But it took three divorces, five children and decades of heartbreak before the lovebirds finally realised they were meant for each other.

They had not spoken since secondary school, but when they finally reunited two years ago the old spark burned even more intensely and they are now engaged to be married at Wortley Hall on August 14.

Carol, who is now 52, has five children and lives in Stocksbridge, said: "Neil was my first love and I always held a torch for him. When we met again it was as though we'd never parted. All those years melted away and we clicked instantly."

As with all good fairy tale romances, it began in the technical block at school, where Carol recalls Neil finally plucked up the courage to ask her out despite a friend telling him 'give over, you wouldn't stand a chance with her'.

This grainy image is the only surviving photo of Carol and Neil together as teenagers

This grainy image is the only surviving photo of Carol and Neil together as teenagers

For the next year, they were an on-off item, spending many an evening and weekend gazing into each other's eyes as they hung out with friends on the Rivelin Valley.

But Carol says when she broke it off the final time, he was so heartbroken he cut ties with their group of friends because he could not cope with seeing her again.

Carol, who works in the supplies office at Royal Hallamshire Hospital, married for the first time aged just 19 and again aged 38.

Neil, who is also 52, lives in Dronfield and works as a heavy plant driver, wed in his 30s.

As the years passed, she says they often thought of one another but lacked the courage to make contact.

On several occasions, their paths very nearly crossed, like when she worked on reception at Weston Park Hospital and he attended several radiotherapy appointments for thyroid problems - each time when she was off-duty.

It was Carol who finally took the plunge and got in touch, tracking Neil down via his sister on Facebook and arranging to meet.

"I got out of the car and he was so nervous he just sat there. When I grabbed hold of him I gave him a right big squeeze and he says that was the moment he knew he still had those feelings for me," she said.

Today Carol is a gregarious party animal, very different from the timid schoolgirl Neil first fell for, but she says he is still the same quiet, caring soul with a 'beautiful smile' - albeit with a little less hair.

Neil said: "Carol always held a special place in my heart and always will, but I was nervous about meeting her at first because I'm older, balder and fatter, and I thought 'will she still like me as I am now?'

"When we were going out as teenagers I remember we were sat in her mum's front room and I said 'you know what, one day I'm going to marry you'.

"She just laughed but all those years ago I knew I would have her as my wife sooner or later."

To anyone still harbouring feelings for their teenage flame, Carol's advice is 'never give up hope'.

"Things happen for a reason. For us the time obviously wasn't right back then but it is now," she adds.