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OAPs who met playing Mary and Joseph in a school nativity aged five reveal whirlwind romance

Two lovestruck OAPs who first set eyes on each other while playing Mary and Joseph in a school nativity aged five have struck up a whirlwind romance - 75 years later.

Tony Jackson, 81, and Gloria Loukes, 80, from Sheffield, first met while at school in the 1940s before going their separate ways aged 11 and eventually going on to have their own families and careers.

Then, in August last year, Tony was going through some old things when he found a picture of Gloria before digging out her phone number and ringing to 'see if she was still alive'. 

The couple, who both lost their partners in 2017, quickly reconnected and their romance has since gone from strength to strength, with Tony revealing: 'We have lots of lost time to make up for.'

Tony Jackson, 81, and Gloria Loukes, 80, from Sheffield, have revealed how they fell in love after reconnecting last year having first met while at school together 

The couple first met while at school in the 1940s before going their separate ways aged 11 and eventually going on to have their own families and careers (pictured, circled, Gloria and Tony) 

In 2003, after missing a school reunion, Tony (right) invited Gloria (centre) and her husband Frank up to have Sunday lunch with him and his wife, Jacqueline (pictured, left) 

Tony and Gloria were both born and raised in Sheffield, and first met each other aged five in 1945 when they attended Pomona Street School, now known as Porter Croft Primary School.

Shortly after starting school, they were cast as Mary and Joseph in a nativity and it was not long afterwards that Tony gave Gloria a heart-shaped piece of glass jewellery.

He said: 'I have no idea where I got it from but I remember liking Gloria an awful lot and I think that's why I gave it to her.'

Gloria added: 'It was such a special gift because in those days young girls like me didn't have jewellery, it just wasn't as common back then.

Tony and Gloria were both born and raised in Sheffield, and first met each other aged five in 1945 when they attended Pomona Street School, now known as Porter Croft Primary School  (pictured left, Gloria at age 11, and right, Tony aged 7) 

Shortly after starting school, they were cast as Mary and Joseph in a nativity and it was not long afterwards that Tony gave Gloria a heart-shaped piece of glass jewellery (pictured, Tony at the age of nine) 

'So to receive something so beautiful was really important to me and I think that's why I have held on to it all these years.

'And I did always maintain a soft spot for Tony, even though we were very young I liked him a lot.'

Fantastic black and white photos show the pair as youngsters, including one school photo in which they can both be seen alongside their classmates.

After going their separate ways aged 11, Gloria went on to become a primary school teacher and moved to Biggin Hill in Kent and Tony became an engineer for BT at stayed in Sheffield.

After going their separate ways aged 11, Gloria went on to become a primary school teacher and moved to Biggin Hill in Kent (left) and Tony became an engineer for BT at stayed in Sheffield (right) 

Both married and had children.

After than more than half a century passed before they saw each other again, following a school reunion in 2003 that Tony failed to attend.

He said he felt guilty he had not gone and called Gloria, one of the organisers, and apologised for not attending.

Tony then invited Gloria and her husband Frank up to have Sunday lunch with him and his wife, Jacqueline.

The couple both went on to live quite separate lives, with Gloria moving to Kent (pictured at the age of 23) 

By sheer chance, he had a picture taken with both women and noted down Gloria's landline.

However, after this they did not see each other again for another 17 years.

Then last year, he rediscovered the photo while going through old things and rang the number, which he was also able to find among his things.

Gloria failed to answer initially but then dialled 1471 and got through to Tony, who has battled cancer, Covid-19 and Parkinson's in recent years.  

Last year, Tony rang an old number he had for Gloria and was able to get through to his childhood sweetheart 

Tony said he rang Gloria wondering 'if she was still alive' and said he was 'delighted to hear her voice and get chatting with her' 

From the first call the pair hit it off and since then they have met up in person more than half a dozen times and spoken on the phone up to six times each and every day

Tony, a grandfather-of-16, said: 'Over the summer I just happened to find this picture of Gloria that I had taken in 2003 with a landline number on it. 

'I thought I'd try it to see if she was still alive and there she was. I was delighted to hear her voice and get chatting with her.' 

From the first call the pair hit it off and since then they have met up in person more than half a dozen times and spoken on the phone up to six times each and every day.  

She said: 'I was wonderful to hear from him again and after only a few weeks we decided to meet up. It went really well and we haven't stopped since.' 

Under coronavirus restrictions, Gloria and Tony set up their own bubble so they could continue to see each other, which they said was 'very important' 

Adding to their fairy-tale romance is the fact Gloria has cherished the heart-shaped, glass piece of jewellery that Tony gave her all the way back in the mid-1940s 

Meanwhile Tony revealed: 'In the end, we wanted to see if we were compatible together so she came to see me and it went really well, so it's gone from there. 

'We get on very well, Gloria's a wonderful woman.'

Adding to their fairy-tale romance is the fact Gloria has cherished the heart-shaped, glass piece of jewellery that Tony gave her all the way back in the mid-1940s. 

Under coronavirus restrictions, Gloria and Tony set up their own bubble so they could continue to see each other, which they said was 'very important'.

The couple says they bond over poetry, cracking jokes and reminiscing over old times.

The couple say they are 'excited' about the future and have four trips planned around the UK for later this year. 

They are considering narrowing the 200-mile gap that currently exists between them by moving in together, but want to wait for some months before making a decision.

In the meantime, they have exciting trips to the Isle of Wight, Norfolk and the Chelsea Flower Show planned together. 

Gloria said: 'After my husband died I thought that was it, I didn't think about ever finding someone else again or even consider it.

Pictured: Porter Croft School, formerly Pomona Street School, where Tony and Gloria attended in the 1940s 

'But then Tony called and was absolutely lovely. Since then we have got on so well and had such a lovely time together that we want to keep it going.'

The gran-of-one added: 'Tony is very clever, which I like, and makes me laugh all the time, which is obviously very important indeed.

'I feel very happy with him and lucky to have found him again.' 

The couple would like to appeal for any other children in their class at Pomona Street School, who should be in the picture, to come forward. 

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