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Hove pals who played during the war reunited at last
Two long-lost friends have been reunited after losing touch for more than 60 years.
James Avis and Sylvia Jones spent their childhood dodging Nazi doodlebugs together in the streets of wartime Hove but never saw each other again after Mr Avis was orphaned in 1949.
Now living in New Zealand, the 76-year-old was determined to track down surviving friends from his younger days.
And after The Argus ran an article about Mr Avis’s quest, surprised Sylvia Jones recognised her childhood chum.
The two friends were finally reunited at The Grand Hotel in Brighton last week when Mr Avis travelled to the UK on holiday.
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He said: “We lived in Conway Street in Hove during the war years and I hadn’t seen Sylvia since the day I left the street when I was 11.
“I remember her as a pretty little blonde girl who liked sweets. There were tanks in our streets and doodlebugs over our heads but we just used to wander around asking soldiers for bubble gum.
“It was a lovely time but when my mother died I was packed off to Lewes and ended up in New Zealand so I never saw anyone from my street ever again.”
Mrs Jones, who is 74 and now lives in Upper Beeding, said she had been “delighted” to hear from Mr Avis again after a gap of more than six decades.
She said: “We lived two doors down from each other. There used to be a gang of us and we were definitely a bit naughty, always scrumping and up to no good.
“But Jimmy just disappeared after his mother died and we never saw him again.”
Mrs Jones, who herself lived in Canada for more than 20 years, said meeting Mr Avis at the Grand was “surreal but lovely”.
The pair have vowed to keep in touch by email and may even meet up again in New Zealand.
Mrs Jones said: “When we met up we just picked up where we left off. It was like we’d seen each other yesterday, although we had changed a lot.
“We were both from a backstreet in Hove - I was one of nine children and Jimmy always had patches in his clothes.
“But we both made something of ourselves during our lives and that made me feel really happy.”
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