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FriendsReunited comes to New Zealand

FriendsReunited comes to New Zealand

One of the United Kingdom’s most popular internet sites has come to New Zealand.

FriendsReunited, the hugely successful internet web site that reunites you with your old school friends and workmates, is here.

Nearly 6 million people use the pioneer web site in Britain, and it’s one of the UK’s top ten sites, so it’s the best way to get back in touch with lost friends from school or university via the internet.

Sometimes it’s more than that - thousands of reunions have taken place thanks to FriendsReunited. Parents have found lost children, people have got married and the first FriendsReunited baby is expected soon.

Using FriendsReunited you can get in touch with old mates from school, college, work, national service and the armed forces. There’s just a simple enrolment process and a small fee, which means the site doesn’t have to bombard you with unwanted sales or advertising to stay afloat.

The original website was launched in October 2000 by English husband and wife team Steve and Julie Pankhurst. They had the idea one day when Julie wondered what her own old schoolmates were doing. Did they have families? Were they still living in the area? Were they married, divorced or still alive? The couple realised that this was an idea that could appeal to everyone and so they set up FriendsReunited.

After two months they had 5,000 members - now the British website gets up to nine million hits a day. And now they’re looking forward to just as big a success in New Zealand.

“We have been urged by many New Zealanders both in the UK and abroad to set up a FriendsReunited service for them,” Steve says. “It seems a natural progression to offer the same services to other countries as there is no reason why finding old friends shouldn’t be as popular everywhere elsewhere as it has been in the UK.

“The new site has been set up with a database full of thousands of schools and universities from the word go. There’s also a database of companies to help you catch up with old workmates. Don’t worry if one of your schools or workplaces isn’t there because you can add it to the database yourself.”

The website creator Steve Pankhurst can be emailed at reunites old friends

Although the New Zealand version of is quite new the original site is already busy reuniting Kiwis with old friends.

Bev Charman-Gay (38) tracked down her best friend Trisha Ireland, from her student nursing days, in New Zealand on the original site.

The pair kept in touch for years after Trisha, then Trisha Begg, emigrated to New Zealand, but after Trisha married, Bev lost her address.

Bev, of Croydon, England, always wanted to find Trisha again and she finally succeeded after joining FriendsReunited. She would love to have a reunion but for now the friends exchange emails and photos of their families.

Bev says: “Trisha and I first met when I was a student nurse and she was a staff nurse on Fredrick Hewitt Ward at St George's Hospital, Tooting, London.

“We got on well and used to go to the gym together. I left the ward to continue my training and Trisha also left to train as a psychiatric nurse. We then met up again on a psychiatric ward at Springfield Hospital, Tooting.

“I completed my nurse training and would you believe went on to be a bus driver for 5 years! Trisha emigrated to New Zealand. We kept in touch for years but then I lost her address, just after she got married and I have been looking for her ever since. It was through the Friends site that I found her.

“I live in Croydon, Surrey. I’m now married with a six-year-old son, Trisha is also married with two children age four and 18 months. I would love the chance to meet up with her but for now we exchange emails and photos. I’m 38 and I think Trisha is 40 now.

“Trisha used to have a sporty MG, which we used to ‘cruise’ around in. We were both so busy with studying we didn't get up to anything outrageous but she was a great friend to me and helped me through my training when it got tough.”
(PIC AVAILABLE) Julia Rowlands emigrated to New Zealand (and is living in Kerikeri) and lost touch with her best schoolfriend Diana Bennett for 28 years. Then she tried FriendsReunited and was amazed to find that Diana was living in New Zealand too (in Auckland). After more emails and telephone calls, the pair met up for a reunion. And it seemed as if the friends had hardly been apart a few days, let alone 28 years. Now they keep in touch regularly.

Julia (nee Parrott) says: “I was born in the UK and went to school at Cheshunt Secondary Modern in Hertfordshire. At school my best friend was Diana Hill (now Diana Bennett) we left school in 1965 and stayed friends for the next few years.

“I got married in 1974 and we emigrated to NZ while Diana went to Australia. We lost contact despite several letters being written to Diana’s mother.

“Just before New Year 2002 we heard about the FriendsReunited site in the UK. I put my
details on the site saying that I wanted to contact Diana Hill, then my husband and I being District Commissioners in Scouting, went off to the New Zealand Jamboree at Hamilton.

“When we came back I checked the site and low and behold there was a message from Diana. A friend of Diana’s in the UK had seen my message and emailed Diana - you'd never guess
where she was living - yes New Zealand! She had been living in Auckland NZ since 1988 with her husband. She also had been trying to contact me but didn’t know my married name.

“So after long telephone conversations her and her husband came up to Kerikeri for a visit.
It was as though we hadn't seen each other for a couple of days not 28 years! We have since discovered that we have mutual friends in the company which she works for in Auckland and that her husband also has mutual old friends with my husband Mike when they were Scouts in the UK.

“Small world isn't it. We keep in touch regularly now. What a wonderful site FriendsReunited is - I have contacted many more old school friends through your site too.”

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