Cardiff army veterans in chance reunion after 60 years

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John Halloran and John StaceyImage source, PA Media
Image caption,
John Halloran (left) and John Stacey (right) served together in Cyprus in the 1950s

Two army veterans who served together in Cyprus were reunited for the first time in 60 years after a chance encounter at a Christmas party.

John Stacey, 83, and John Halloran, 81, both from Cardiff, lost touch in 1959 after being demobbed from the army.

The meeting happened as Mr Halloran walked past an event for veterans with dementia at the Royal British Legion club in Whitchurch, Cardiff.

Mr Stacey's wife said the reunion was like an "early Christmas present".

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Roger Lees (left) set up the encounter after speaking to Mr Halloran outside the event

The men served as infantry in the Welch Regiment during a conflict between Greek-Cypriot guerrillas and the British Army between 1955 and 1959.

Mr Halloran was passing the event on 9 December and asked Roger Lees, who helps to support Mr Stacey, who was standing outside, what was happening inside.

Mr Lees said: "I said to Halloran, 'Do you know John Stacey?', and he said they were best mates out in Cyprus. I told him he was inside if he wanted to meet him.

"The bit that gets me going is Stacey's emotion when he saw his mate. Halloran tapped him on the shoulder, he turned around and he said, 'blimey O'Riley'.

"They sat down holding hands. It was like they didn't want to be parted.

"They started hugging and that was the most beautiful thing I'd seen."

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
John Halloran (left) returned to Cardiff after fighting in Cyprus to work as a steelworker

Mr Halloran, who worked as a steelworker, said: "We were in the same company, and John was a character around the camp. He was always laughing and joking, playing jokes on people including me.

"I got emotional when I saw him. He's a character and he hasn't changed."

Mr Stacey's wife, Judy, 76, said: "I was surprised he remembered John. I thought it was wonderful.

"It was like an early Christmas present. It was lovely."

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