Emotional pen pals, 81, reveal joy at writing letters to each other for 70 years

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Jean Wescombe (right) in Adelaide and Jan Rummer in Perth have been pen pals for 70 years. Source: Twitter/7News

Growing up with a pen pal was once the norm for Aussies and people right around the world – with many keeping up the correspondance for years to come. But in an ever-evolving digital world, it seems the art of letter writing is quickly disappearing.

However two pen pals are keen to show the younger generation the joys of writing and receiving handwritten letters. Adelaide’s Jean Wescombe has been writing letters to Jan Rummer in Perth for 70 years – an activity they told 7 News has brought them joy from the age of just 11 years old.

Now the pair have opened up on their unique friendship, revealing they are now both 81 years old and have shared “every treasured moment” of their lives together.

“1949 when we started to write,” Jan told 7News reporter Tim Noonan as she looked through old letters. “Jean thought of this idea and to celebrate our 70 years of writing together, she sent this beautiful necklace.”

Meanwhile, Jean added: “I love it. Yes, just love it.”

At one stage, the 81-year-old teared up as she read back an old letter from Jan: “Sorry, it’s putting a tear to my eye.”

It comes after a recent poll carried out by Starts at 60 revealed most over-60s no longer send or expect to receive any form of handwritten thank you note from their relatives. In fact, many now choose to phone or send a message instead as modern technologies continue to make it quick and easy to speak to people around the world.

One reader revealed: “I no longer send letters, but still phone and thank the sender,” while another explained they now choose to send e-cards over the internet.

“Once we had strings of cards, now we have a few as many of our friends do the same. Money is tight and postage is high. Christmas changes as you get older,” they added.

The survey found 78 per cent of those asked don’t send or expect to receive letters, while 15 per cent admitted they still send them – but would no longer expect their loved ones to return the favour.

This could be due to a number of factors, but it’s most likely down to technologies allowing people to send an email, text or online instant message to their relatives instead of sitting down to write a note and paying to post it.

When was the last time you wrote a letter to a pen pal? What was their name and what did you talk about? What are they doing now?

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