A couple who lost touch with each other for 58 years will get married in July.
Phil Meredith and Pauline Engelbrecht went out with each other as teenagers. Their first date was in 1954 at the Granada Cinema in Grantham where Pauline’s father was chief projectionist. She worked in the cinema’s restaurant.
Phil, 75, said: “The memories are very vivid. Pauline was the best looking girl in Grantham.”
Phil worked at Ruston and Hornsby on a five-year apprenticeship and used to cycle there and back every day from his home in Knipton where he had lived all his life until a few years ago. When he got home from work he would get ready to go out again and cycle to see Pauline, whose maiden name was Girdlestone, at her home in Ryde Avenue in Grantham.
But the relationship did not last and after getting married some years later Pauline and her husband moved to South Africa in 1972 where she would stay for 40 years. Phil did his National Service and went to work on Vulcans.
The Journal published a front page story in October 1972 about Pauline’s move to South Africa with her family. She is pictured with her father, John, her first husband, Maurice, and their children Melvyn and Cheryl.
The story said John showed the first film at the cinema in 1937 and the last in April 1972. Maurice was employed as a plumber London Road and Pauline worked on dinners at Earlesfield Primary School.
Pauline told the Journal then that there was nothing for them in the UK and they wanted to give their children a future. Maurice said they were attacted by the better prospects. They told the Journal a man earning £3,000 would only pay £43 income tax.
Last September Pauline, who has been married twice before, visited the UK and went to Bottesford to see her aunt, Peggy Girdlestone. While there she saw a picture of Knipton and mentioned she used to go out with a boy from the village.
Pauline’s daughter-in-law, Celeste Thorpe, who was at the house at the time, said she used to care for Phil’s mother and asked if Pauline would like to meet him. It was Pauline’s last day in the country, but she and divorced Phil did meet up that day and kept in touch by phone when she went back home.
Pauline, 74, said: “He said he fell in love with me all over again. We kept in touch over the phone. I came back in November and things developed from there. We got engaged in South Africa in March.”
Phil moved to Branston a few years ago and Pauline has now sold-up in South Africa and moved to the village to be with him. They will get married on July 6 in Knipton church.
Phil said their relationship was a natural progression with both their families welcoming each other. He said: “It’s a great story. People say it’s like a soap story, but it’s all true.”
Pauline said: “I think it’s amazing. People will not believe you when you tell them. They say it’s the sort of thing that happens on TV and not in real life, but it does.”
Phil has a son Neil, and two daughters, Julie and Lorna.