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Flashback: Let's make it a date; Adrian Butler meets pals who organised a reunion of friends from afar.

Byline: Adrian Butler

ALAN Murphy will always remember 1951The 67-year-old won't remember it for the Festival of Britain or Winston Churchill's return to Downing Street. He'll remember it as the year Lily, the girl on whom he had a crush at school, turned down his request for a date.

But nothing heals a male ego like the passing of 54 years and Alan and old flame Lily Crawford can joke about it.

Indeed, Alan has just helped Lily organise the most remarkable reunion their old school, Harrison Jones, will ever see.

Last weekend the pair, along with more than 250 of their school chums, reminisced over the old days.

It was 54 years ago - 162 school terms - that the pair last met, 54 years which have seen them lead very different lives.

After leaving the school, where Frankie Vaughan was also a pupil, Alan workedfor Ford at Halewood and lived in Halewood Village.

Lily, meanwhile, emigrated to America.

She left Liverpool in 1958, having married an American two years earlier. After quitting her job at Vernon's in Edge Lane, she trained as an accountant in New Jersey, where she lived for 38 years.

'I went back to school to train because I realised I needed qualifications,' she says.

'My first son, Andre, was only two we left for the States. But even today, now he's 47, he says he's a Scouser and has been back a few times to visit the family over here.

'He loves it here because everyone calls him 'love'!'

But Lily wasn't the only one to have travelled from abroad to meet up with old friends.

Ralph Sweetman, 67, who travelled from Fresno in California, says: 'The town has changed, but the people never change. They're always great. I keep on visiting Liverpool because everyone's so friendly.'

Two years ago, Alan and Lily joinedthe ranks of old school friends who met through website Friends Reunited.

After they got in touch, Lily suggested they try to hold a reunion. Alan's task was to round up all the Scousers from the school, while Lily, working from Las Vegas where she now lives, was to deal with the rest of the world.

'It was her dream to organise a reunion,' says Alan. 'She gave hoursand hours to it.' With the invitations sent out, the pair held their breath and waited to see who would turn up, while Lily stocked up on Sayers' meat pies and cakes.

On the night, 254 people came to the party held in Woolton Hall, where they stayed chatting until 4.30am.

Of those, 47 had come from abroad - from Australia, America, Canada, Cyprus and Crete' Everyone was saying we should do it again in two years,' says Lily.

'There were so many more people who wanted to come, but couldn't.'

As for Alan's old crush, he says that wasn't on their minds. Lily is now married to her second husband and Alan is a widower with a girlfriend.

'We were only 14 at the time. There are girls you fancy, but they give you the back heel,' he says. ' Everyone was so uptight in those days. I think we were born too early!'

When he went to meet her at the airport, he didn't even recognise her - and his chat-up lines obviously hadn't improved.

'He definitely needs to work on that,' jokes Lily.

' Before he collected me, he said because I'd been in America so long I was probably fat by now


REUNION: Lily and Alan (insets) plus Lily with Rose Newall (USA); Charlie Houston (Australia); Betty Houston (Merseyside) and Joan; (USA
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Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 25, 2005
Previous Article:Flashback: Scousers abroad.
Next Article:Flashback: Old Pals.

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