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Friends back together via the worldwide web.

COVENTRY mum Sheila Sykes couldn't believe it when the best friend of the childhood sweetheart she married got in touch after 22 years through internet site Friends Reunited.

Fred Bourne was a close mate of Robert "Ossie" Oswin, who became Sheila's husband in 1971. But six years later "Ossie" was killed in a car crash and in the years following Sheila lost touch with mutual friends, including Fred.

But Sheila, of Cheshire Farm Cottages, Church Lane, Corley, put her name on the website hoping some would get in touch and she was amazed to get a result through the site.

She said: "I joined Friends Reunited always hoping Fred would get in touch - when I saw his name I cried and cried and jumped round the room."

Fred, originally from Coventry and now living near Birmingham, said that seeing Sheila again brought back many memories of his old pal.

He said: "I was absolutely thrilled when I saw Sheila's name - what happened to Ossie brought us closer at the time, because we were united in grief.

"Now we're good friends. We've had lunch a few times and recalled many happy memories."

Fred grew up in Grangemouth Road, a stone's throw from his chum who began dating Sheila when they were all at Binley Park Comprehensive.

After leaving school Fred moved to Birmingham to work in finance and "Ossie" took up an apprenticeship at Dunlop.

Sheila, who grew up in Sovereign Road at Earlsdon, also took a job as a secretary at Dunlop. Sheila and "Ossie" married in 1971 at St Mary Magdalene Church in Hearsall Lane. His brother John, who lives in Nuneaton, was best man, and four years later "Ossie" was best man at Fred's wedding to Beverley Blagden in Coventry Register Office.

Sheila and "Ossie" had two children, Darren, aged 29, and Bradley, aged 27, who both live in Holdsworth Crescent, Nunts Park, Coventry.

Sheila later remarried and with husband Tom Sykes run Cheshire Farm Cottages, in Church Lane, Corley. Fred has three children and is a finance broker and a partner in his own firm leasing company. Fred and Sheila will be joined by about 60 classmates from their school class of 1962 at a reunion tonight at the Hylands Hotel, in Warwick Road, Coventry.

HAVE you used the Friends Reunited site to get in touch with old school mates? Tell us your story. Write to John West, School Reunions, Evening Telegraph, Corporation St, Coventry, CV1 1FP, or e-mail john.west@mrn.co.uk or phone 024 7650 0315

CAPTION(S):

GOING DOWN MEMORY LANE: Fred Bourne and Sheila Sykes and Fred in his younger years with Robert "Ossie" Oswin (left). Main picture: WILL BINNS
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Jan 18, 2003
Words:448
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