We'll meet again

FORTY years after first stepping out, love has come full circle for a couple of long lost teenage sweethearts who have finally got back together to tie the knot.

By James Fraser

FORTY years after first stepping out, love has come full circle for a couple of long lost teenage sweethearts who have finally got back together to tie the knot.

A chance meeting at an Ipswich supermarket brought the memories flooding back to 57-year-old John Brown and hairdresser Diana Pettit, 56, who had not seen each other since 1962 when he was 17 and she was 16.

But the both of them picked up more than they bargained for during that shopping trip four years ago as the blushing bride-to-be has finally said AISLE be yours!

In the traditional manner on one knee and with champagne, roses and even a poem, Romeo John popped the question in the Golden Panda Chinese restaurant as six of their oldest friends watched on.

It came as a complete surprise to Diana, who thought she was attending a joint celebration of John's birthday next month and one of John's long-time friends, Colin Long.

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In fact she initially said "No" because she thought he was joking!

"He's a big joker and a bit of an extrovert" said Diana, who started courting John soon after bumping into him in 1998 at Tesco's on the Copdock interchange.

With tears in her eyes, she added: "I'm overwhelmed it was a big surprise and I'm now flabbergasted but I'm very happy. But I can't believe everyone was in on it!"

The pair met as students at Suffolk College and went out for two years until Diana dumped him.

John recalled their time together in 60s - and the happy blow fate dealt him by landing him in the same class as Diana because he needed to retake a maths exam after breaking his leg trialling for Ipswich Town. Many happy times were spent going to the cinema or going window shopping first time around.

But their courtship came to an end with an ominous letter, said John.

"She sent me a letter saying she didn't want to go out with me any more. She said 'I want to go out with my girlfriends and meet other boys' - and she met another one and married him!"

John also married and raised two boys, now 21 and 23. But sadly, just a few months after taking retirement from his job as a tax fraud investigator, in 1995 his wife Jenny died of cancer, aged 47.

Bringing up the two boys on his own, he had gone out shopping for their dinner when he met Diana again. Soon after they met up again when Diana revealed she was getting divorced and the pieces began to fall into place. They revisited old times and became a couple again.

"My world fell in in 1995 and it came back to life in 1998. Now it's 2002 and we're both so happy," said John.

They have been living together in Woodthorpe Close, Hadleigh, since October, and now have some planning to do before the big day - such as buying a ring.

"I wanted to choose one together," said John.

John's poem:

This is to Diana, my girlfriend from the past

Now I ask you the question at last

I want you to stay forever by my side

Please will you marry me and be my bride

The box this comes in is not large and extensive,

Shall we fill it with something small and expensive??

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