Sussex

Brighton classmates reunited at sheltered housing complex

Harry Haines and Ron Redman
Image caption Former childhood friends Ron Redman (left) and Harry Haines had been living in the same sheltered housing complex for six years

Two strangers living in the same home for years struck up a conversation for the first time - only to discover they had been childhood friends.

Former classmates Harry Haines and Ron Redman, both 90, had been living in the same sheltered housing complex in Sussex for years without realising.

The penny dropped when Mr Haines chatted to Mr Redman, who has severe agoraphobia, as he went to the communal lounge for the first time.

The pair had last met in their teens.

Mr Redman had rarely left his flat in the six years he had been at Sanders House, in Hove, and had never been as far as the lounge.

He told the BBC: "I have agoraphobia, but something told me to come down. I don't know what it was."

'Virtually inseparable'

Mr Haines sat next to him and they began chatting, quickly discovering that they both grew up four miles away in the Whitehawk area of Brighton, first meeting at the age of six.

"Then he said he was in a certain class and I said, 'I was in that class'."

Mr Haines told Mr Redman his name and the penny dropped.

"I said, 'You're Harry Haines? All these years - 90 years and I've just met up with him," said Mr Redman

Image caption Ron Redman (left) and Harry Haines had last been in contact in their teens

Since that first encounter, the pair have become virtually inseparable, discovering almost daily new things they have in common.

Mr Haines' daughter Christine Martin said: "It's fabulous. My dad is just having a ball. He hasn't had a good time since Mum died. He has become very reclusive.

"This has brought him out of himself. He's got a happy face all the time.

"It's an absolute joy for them both as they were both leading very insular lives."

She said her father - christened Henry but known as Harry - had grown up in Whitehawk with his grandmother and had attended St Mark's Infant and Whitehawk Primary Schools.

"It's marvellous," Mr Haines said.

"You can't describe it really. The people he knows that I know, and vice versa."

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