The penpal friendship that has lasted for more than 50 years

Penpals Linda Moon and Sharon Bailey (Left)
Penpals Linda Moon and Sharon Bailey (Left)

A transatlantic penpal relationship between an Euxton grandmother and a Canadian woman has endured for 50 years.

And not only is the friendship between 62-year-old Linda Moon and Sharon Bailey, 61, as strong as ever, their relationship has also shed light on Sharon’s unusual heritage.

Linda said that she started writing to her Canadian penfriend in 1961 after seeing an advertisement for penpals in her brother’s copy of Eagle magazine.

She said: “I like to put pen to paper, so when the Eagle said ‘no’ [as they only matched boys] I wrote off elsewhere and was sent a list of potential matches.

“I picked Sharon because she lived in Canada - a place I dreamt about as a little girl.”

Initially it was just a run-of-the-mill penpal relationship which, when the pair reached their late teens, fizzled out. However a chance encounter via letter in 1987 changed the course of their relationship.

Linda’s parents forwarded on a letter addressed to her childhood home in her maiden name, and it was from Sharon.

The letter revealed that Sharon would be visiting Coventry to see her sister and brother-in-law, and proposed meeting-up for the first time.

Linda said: “It was completely out of the blue, she thought it would be a trip of a life-time and wanted to meet-up.”

The visit certainly marked a new chapter in their friendship, and when they met, Linda said they gelled instantly.

She added: “When we met in 1987 we re-established our relationship, it was like we had known each other forever.”

Linda and her husband, Bernard, treated their Canadian visitors to famous Chorley and Leyland sights including Astley Hall and Worden Park, and were said to be delighted at the glorious spring scenes they saw.

And it was during their first visit to England that Canadian-born Sharon discovered that her mother’s family heralded from Chorley in 1851.

She even tracked down a Chorley couple - Horace and Rena Sharples, in Devonshire Road - who knew something of her family.

They also visited churches in the Southport and Rufford area.

Sharon returned the favour two years later and invited Linda and her family to stay with them in Canada for five weeks.

Linda, who has two children and two grandchildren, said: “It was absolutely fantastic over there, it’s a wonderful place, with wonderful people.”

The pair now visit each other every two or three years and regularly correspond via letter and email.

Linda added: “After meeting 24 years ago, it has developed into a precious friendship.”