It has been 60 years since Brian McGuigan and Jeanne Perry last saw each other, but an interest in gardening has brought the two former school friends together.
The pair met at a naval base school in Singapore in 1954, with both their fathers based there and their mothers’ long-time friends.
Just 11 at the time, they became strong friends, and even dated for a while when their families moved back to their England home in Portsmouth.
Mrs Perry said she has ‘flickers of memory’ of their younger days together.
“I remember I was a fair bit taller than him back then, so that’s certainly changed,” she said.
“I remember going to the pictures in my school uniform with him, I think it was ‘Trouble in Store’ with Norman Wisdom, who was a favourite of his, but when he tried to get me into ballroom dancing we sort of drifted apart, as you do.”
Mr McGuigan took up ballroom dancing in his teens, and said that was basically the end of any romance between them.
“I got more involved in the dancing, and Jeanne wasn’t interested in that, so we just moved in different circles,” he said.
“I did try to partner up with her in dancing from memory, but after that you have exams and start to move away.”
Mr McGuigan and his wife Pam moved to New Zealand in 1974, before moving to Brookfield in 2013, and it wasn’t until 10 years ago that the two school friends re-connected on Facebook.
Mr McGuigan runs the Melton Garden Lovers group, and on top of re-connecting with an old friend, Mrs Perry said she was curious to see what Australian gardens were like.
“I don’t have a big garden, but I do like looking at other people’s gardens,” she said.
“We exchanged a few messages early on, but it wasn’t really until we were coming out on this trip that we thought it would be nice to meet up.”
Out visiting their son in Frankston South, Mrs Perry and her husband, Alan, joined the McGuigan’s and the garden lovers group on their trip down the Great Ocean Road last week.
“We’ve wanted to do the Great Ocean Road for a long time, so when we saw that Brian was doing it this week we thought it was now or never,” Mrs Perry said.
“It’s great to catch up after all these years and share some stories.”