Finding my friend

Debz Turner outside Tauranga Library with a class photo. Photo: Daniel Hines.

Debz Turner has been on a mission to find a long-lost childhood friend.

“We first became friends about 1974. We were in the same class for about three years.”

As an 11-year-old, the pair spent their lunch times playing together.

“We played softball and netball and shared making many happy memories, like learning to bike at her place and becoming the best of friends.”

A highlight was a one-week school camp in Auckland.

“We talked to about one o’clock in the morning, me and my friend. All the other girls did too. I’ll never forget, a grumpy old teacher was walking around with a stick.”

Alas, her friend’s family moved home to Scotland and the two lost contact. Those were the days before internet and mobile phones. They also didn’t have each others' addresses.

Still missing her years later, Debz decided to start looking.

“When they got the computers at the library, I would often go and search for her, trying to find her name and her married name. I looked up family trees in case they had one.

“One day at the library I found her parent’s names in the election roll. I went to the genealogy group and a lady called Joy helped me, and we managed to find their home address. When I got home, I Googled it and found out that their house had not been sold.”

She sent a letter off before lockdown, including a link to her Facebook profile, and then waited.

“I got a reply back about ten days ago,” says Debz. “I couldn’t believe it.”

She’d been checking Facebook messages daily and discovered two days after receiving the message that it was in a folder where new unsolicited messages are held before the recipient clicks on to accept them.

“I hope my story encourages others not to give up on finding loved ones and friends. I have been able to find a lot of friends from the past.”

Debz has some tips on how to find people.

“The election roll at the Library, the genealogy group which meets once a month on a Friday, Tauranga history online, the history room in the Library. And you can Google some of the ancestry sites on the internet.’

“I was so happy to find her, and it’s now on my bucket list to go and visit her one day.”

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