Like so many other great love stories this one features love, loss, laughter and of course good old fashioned romance, but what is special about this tale, is how these two Peninsula Villages’ residents came to fall back in love after almost 70 years apart.
96 year old Eric Tweedale and 93 year old Enid Bradshaw first met practically a lifetime ago – it was 1939 at Merrylands RSL, where they both joined a youth group. They enjoyed a strong friendship before getting engaged two years later. It was in the midst of World War II and Eric was serving in the Navy, a job he undertook for almost four years.
The young couple’s relationship burned hot and bright for a time, but cooled and dimmed following time apart during the war. As a result, Eric and Enid parted ways and they separately enjoyed a fulfilled and happy period of their lives both marrying and having beautiful children - Eric a daughter and Enid a son and daughter.
Eric, now the oldest living Wallaby, went on to enjoy a successful career in sport. He played rugby for Parramatta before being selected for the 1946 Wallabies New Zealand tour, the first international tour following the war. Eric, a front row forward, went on to play for Australia until 1949, travelling to Britain, France and Canada throughout his career.
During this time, Enid moved regularly throughout New South Wales with her family, but found a passion for the creative arts, becoming an award-winning artist and published author. She became recognised in the 80s for her craftsmanship including art, sculpting, dress making, home designing and painting. Enid’s most recognisable book, Dolls’ Houses was published in 1986 and is still available to this day.
Living separate lives in separate cities, 62 years passed before they crossed paths again. It wasn’t until 2004 that these childhood sweethearts were invited to a reunion by mutual friends from the youth group to catch up at none other than the Merrylands RSL.
“There were six of us left from the youth group and our friends organised for Enid to wait at the big clock at Central Station for someone to meet her to get the train into Merrylands RSL and I offered as I was travelling by train,” explained Eric.
“It was a complete surprise to see Eric after all those years of having no contact at all. We had a cup of coffee, chatted about the time that had passed and ended up missing our train,” recounted Enid.
“We knew each other straight away even after 62 years. She was still a blonde - but a slightly different tone of blonde - and she still had those lovely big blue eyes. She was a beautiful girl and I thought she looked even more beautiful at 80-odd years young,” said Eric.
After years of friendship, Eric and Enid found themselves living alone and Enid decided to move to Cooinda Village in Umina, nearby Eric’s home in Ettalong.
“We both found ourselves living on our own, widowed by our spouses, so when Enid moved to Cooinda it was lovely to spend some time with each other where we rekindled our romantic feelings for one another over a few years,” said Eric.
“While we stayed in touch following the reunion, it was a few years down the track before we became close once again,” confirmed Enid.
Now it’s 2018 and Eric and Enid are finishing each other’s sentences, living life to the fullest in their 90s and residing approximately 40 footsteps from one another in self-care units at Peninsula Village in Umina.
“We are very thankful that they accommodated us here at the Village so close to each other. We’ve been here for just over six months and enjoy the fantastic activities and social side of being in a residential village, close to family and friends,” said Enid.
“We decided to have our own units, with our own things, but spend lots of valuable time with one another, recounting about our time apart and the times we had together when we were young,” she added.
In an age where it is rare to find a love that transcends time and survives life’s challenges, this story is a true reminder of the power of devotion, perseverance and friendship.
Enid turned 94 in December and they say it is an amazing blessing that they did find each other again at all.
“Ours is a most unusual story with a happy ending. We not only spend time reminiscing, but look forward to the days ahead with keen anticipation,” added Enid.
“We both believe it was just meant to be,” concluded Eric.