Cross-Atlantic penpals from Horsham mark Golden Wedding

JPCT 060215 S15060029x Horsham. John and Roma Clifton 50th wedding anniversary -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-150602-122811001
JPCT 060215 S15060029x Horsham. John and Roma Clifton 50th wedding anniversary -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-150602-122811001

A Horsham couple, who spent their courting years in different continents, have celebrated their Golden Wedding.

John and Roma Clifton met in 1953 when they were both working in the British Rail telephone exchange in Waterloo Station.

JPCT 060215 S15060022x Horsham. John and Roma Clifton 50th wedding anniversary. COPY of WEDDING PIC - copy by Steve Cobb SUS-150602-102347001

JPCT 060215 S15060022x Horsham. John and Roma Clifton 50th wedding anniversary. COPY of WEDDING PIC - copy by Steve Cobb SUS-150602-102347001

They were nothing but work colleagues for years.

Then in 1962 Roma left the telephone exchange and then in 1964 took up a job as an au pair in America. She lived in a town in New Jersey coincidentally called Clifton.

It was an innocent remark by Roma in a letter to a friend, which eventually brought them together as a couple.

John, 85, said: “I never knew her really. It was the person who spoke to me (at the telephone exchange). She just said ‘the lady who went to America says please give my regards to John Clifton’.

“There wasn’t romance involved. It came about in our letters and that was something that developed.”

They wrote to each other every week until Roma returned in August 1964 after receiving his proposal in a telegram.

She said: “In those days, if you got a telegram they would telephone you and read it out to you. I sent a reply and said yes.”

John went with her parents to meet her off the Queen Mary at Southampton docks and the next day they went to buy Roma’s engagement ring.

On February 6 1965 they were married at Horsham St Mary’s Parish Church. The couple now have one son Keith, a daughter-in-law and a grandson.

John said of their successful marriage: “If I knew the secret I would write a book and make millions. My son said to me once, ‘how do you know you are marrying the right person?’ I said ‘forget romance; do you like them?’”

On Friday they enjoyed a quiet day together and celebrated with their family on Sunday.

l Pictured (left) John and Roma Clifton on their wedding and and (above) the couple today, celebrating their anniversary.