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Friends reunited thanks to threatened Norwich day centre

PUBLISHED: 18:00 13 April 2010 | UPDATED: 09:40 02 July 2010

Friends reunited: Violet Perry, 90, and Anne Thompson, 86, used to play together as girls and have now been reunited after 70 years.

Friends reunited: Violet Perry, 90, and Anne Thompson, 86, used to play together as girls and have now been reunited after 70 years.

Peter Walsh

They were not even teenagers the last time they saw each other, but more than 70 years later these two childhood pals can reminisce about the good old days once again after being thrust back together - thanks to a closure-threatened city day centre.

They were not even teenagers the last time they saw each other, but more than 70 years later these two childhood pals can reminisce about the good old days once again after being thrust back together - thanks to a closure-threatened city day centre.

Friends reunited Violet Perry, 90, and Anne Thompson, 86, used to play together as girls in a park when they lived in Hackney, London.

But the pair lost contact as each went their separate ways - Violet, to Ilford, Essex, and Anne to Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire - before ending up in Norwich almost a lifetime later.

Both have recently been introduced to the Silver Rooms in Silver Road, Norwich, but neither knew the other was there until a chance conversation reignited old memories - and sparked a new friendship decades after they initially became friends.

Anne, a mother-of-two, grandmother-of-four and great grandmother-of-four, who now lives in Thorpe Park, off Thorpe Road, said they got talking, but it was not until they realised they both had lived in Hackney that things started to fall into place.

Anne, who went on to work in the catering department of a hospital in Welwyn Garden City, said: “We just got talking and everything was coming together about what we did.”

“I couldn't believe it. We just couldn't believe it - how can you meet someone again after all these years? All these people have been thrown together and I've found my friend. It's lovely.”

Violet, a mother-of-three, grandmother-of-two and great grandmother-of-three, who lives in Stacy Road, north Norwich, said: “We both lived in Hackney so got talking.”

It soon dawned on the pair that their shared memories were more than just coincidences - they were the same couple of girls that used to skip, run, and play with musical instruments over the park in London before the war.

Violet, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease and once worked in a chemical factory in Hackney, said: “I'm a spiritualist and just have the feeling that it was meant to be.”

Anne, who lost her husband Bill more than two years ago, has lived in Norwich for the past two-and-a-half years and has been coming to the Silver Rooms three times a week since September. But anger has grown after Norfolk County Council revealed proposals to close the site.

Anne said: “If it wasn't for the Silver Rooms we wouldn't have met again. I come down here three times a week, but would do more if I could.”

Violet, who lost her husband Frank Donald to leukaemia, aged just 53, has been in the Norwich since the late 1980s and has been attending the Silver Rooms for the past 10 weeks.

She said: “I don't know what all these people would do if it closed down. People wouldn't have anywhere to go.”

Violet's grandson Anthony Arnold, 42, also said the centre should stay open. He added: “It's really great that the Silver Rooms has done this for her as they would never have met.”

Have you been reunited with a friend or loved one after several years? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email peter.walsh@archant.co.uk

What do you think of the proposals to close the day centres? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

Fight for our day centres

The clock is ticking on the decision which could see the Essex and Silver Rooms closed.

Conservative-controlled County Hall revealed last year that it wanted to close the council run Silver and Essex Rooms because of a massive shake-up in the way care is provided.

The county council says within 15 years there will be a 62pc increase in the number of people in Norfolk with dementia rising from 12,714 in 2008 to 20,621 by 2025.

They say that means they have to change their focus on tackling the surge in dementia and, therefore, the care homes and day services it runs will change as a result.

Council officials say the Essex and Silver Rooms are not suitable to be converted to that use so have proposed their closure to the fury of pensioners who use them, as reported in the Evening News's Fight For Our Day Centres stories.

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