Friends reunited! Old pals hook up again to recreate these candid photographs… 40 years later


Guess who that is? asks amateur photographer Chris Porsz, looking over a black-and-white image of a happy young couple studying a map. ‘That’s me and my wife.’

The photo was taken as Chris and his girlfriend Lesley, then 20 and 18, planned a 6,000 mile hitch-hike across Europe and North Africa. 

Fifty years later — now married and still deeply in love — they recreated it.

Astonishingly, it is just one of hundreds of photographs Mr Porsz, now 68, has recreated decades years apart, by tracking down the subjects in his pictures and reuniting them. It has proved a daunting task.

Most had no idea their pictures had been taken — and Mr Porsz certainly never thought he’d see them again. 

That all changed in 2009 when his work was published in the local paper and he began receiving messages from people who recognised themselves.

Thanks to word-of-mouth and social media, he soon had hundreds of subjects for ‘reunion’ photographs, which he’s published in two books, Reunions and, now, Reunions 2.

‘The pictures are about the importance of maintaining family ties and friendships’, he said. 

‘But also that life is precious and short, so make the most of it. Who knows what will happen in the lottery of life?’

Mr Porsz is dedicating the books and part funds from them to raise money for Breast Cancer Research, as his wife, now 70, with whom he has three children and seven grandchildren, has breast cancer.

Both books are available from chrisporsz.com. 

Schoolgirls Mazia Ahmad (left), Gulfraz Malik and Tanya Porter were walking to primary school, watched over by their much-loved lollipop lady Gloria Steele, when this photo was taken

Mazia, who was nine in the photo, is now 46 and married, as is Gulfraz, 47. They have been friends ever since

Mazia, who was nine in the photo, is now 46 and married, as is Gulfraz, 47. They have been friends ever since

Schoolgirls Mazia Ahmad, Gulfraz Malik and Tanya Porter were walking to primary school, watched over by their much-loved lollipop lady Gloria Steele, when this photo was taken.

Mazia, who was nine in the photo, is now 46 and married, as is Gulfraz, 47. They have been friends ever since.

They reunited with Tanya Porter, who was seven in the photo and 45 in the reunion photograph last September, after having lost touch.

Lollipop lady Gloria helped children cross the road for seven years during the 1980s. ‘It was great fun re-creating the photo,’ she said. 

‘So it brought back lots of happy memories. We had a good laugh and it was lovely to see the girls all grown up.’

Schoolgirl friends Toni Pignatiello and Teresa McPartlin were photographed on the ‘Sizzler’ ride at the Town Bridge Fair in Peterborough in 1985

Schoolgirl friends Toni Pignatiello and Teresa McPartlin were photographed on the ‘Sizzler’ ride at the Town Bridge Fair in Peterborough in 1985

When Toni and Teresa reunited for the photo, it was the first time they’d seen each other in more than 20 years

When Toni and Teresa reunited for the photo, it was the first time they’d seen each other in more than 20 years

Schoolgirl friends Toni Pignatiello and Teresa McPartlin were photographed on the ‘Sizzler’ ride at the Town Bridge Fair in Peterborough in 1985. 

‘A big gang of us went to the fair on the Friday night to celebrate our CSEs’, said Toni, now 52. 

‘I was 15 and Teresa was 16.’ 

When Toni and Teresa reunited for the photo, it was the first time they’d seen each other in more than 20 years. 

‘It was really lovely to see Toni again and we just picked up where we had left off,’ said Teresa, also 52. 

Howard and Sharon Marshall (nee Bird) were choosing wedding rings in Peterborough in 1981, and were unaware of the photographer as they peered into the shop window

Last year, aged 60 and 62, they recreated the scene

Howard and Sharon Marshall (nee Bird) were choosing wedding rings in Peterborough in 1981, and were unaware of the photographer as they peered into the shop window

Howard and Sharon Marshall (nee Bird) were choosing wedding rings in Peterborough in 1981, and were unaware of the photographer as they peered into the shop window.

‘We identified ourselves from Sharon’s 1980s perm,’ Mr Marshall said, after finding the snap on social media. 

Last year, aged 60 and 62, they recreated the scene. 

‘It was exactly 40 years after we got married,’ Mr Marshall added.

Journey of a lifetime: Photographer Chris Porsz and girlfriend Lesley planning their trip across Europe (top) 50 years ago, and today as husband and wife

Journey of a lifetime: Photographer Chris Porsz and girlfriend Lesley planning their trip across Europe (top) 50 years ago, and today as husband and wife

Journey of a lifetime: Photographer Chris Porsz and girlfriend Lesley planning their trip across Europe (top) 50 years ago, and today as husband and wife

Paul Smith was 19 when he was pictured in front of a Ford Cortina in Cobden Street, Peterborough, in 1980

Mr Smith now has two children and is a local radio DJ

Paul Smith was 19 when he was pictured in front of a Ford Cortina in Cobden Street, Peterborough, in 1980

Paul Smith was 19 when he was pictured in front of a Ford Cortina in Cobden Street, Peterborough, in 1980.

‘In the first picture I am a teenager and in the second, taken last June, I am a veteran!’ said Mr Smith, now 61.

‘Chris told me not to wear black so I thought it would be a great time to get this suit out.

‘The world has changed a lot since then’, he added. ‘People aren’t as loving as in the early 1980s. It was more relaxed back then.’ 

Mr Smith now has two children and is a local radio DJ.

It was an after-school ritual for Zahida Parveen to run to the ice-cream van for a vanilla swirl cone with raspberry drizzle

It was an after-school ritual for Zahida Parveen to run to the ice-cream van for a vanilla swirl cone with raspberry drizzle

But she was unaware she was captured on camera in 1980 as neighbourhood ice-cream man Gino Borrillo, was handing her the treat

But she was unaware she was captured on camera in 1980 as neighbourhood ice-cream man Gino Borrillo, was handing her the treat

It was an after-school ritual for Zahida Parveen to run to the ice-cream van for a vanilla swirl cone with raspberry drizzle. 

But she was unaware she was captured on camera in 1980 as neighbourhood ice-cream man Gino Borrillo, was handing her the treat.

Last May Zahida, now 47, and Gino, 73, reunited. Zahida, who now has three children in their 20s as well as a grandchild, said: ‘I can still taste the raspberry on my tongue.’

Mr Borillo has three children and four grandchildren.

‘I didn’t know about the picture,’ he said, ‘until Chris came into my shop and asked if it was me.’

Aged two, Mark Court was caught on camera feeding his 12-month-old brother Matt a chip while their mother shopped inside

Aged two, Mark Court was caught on camera feeding his 12-month-old brother Matt a chip while their mother shopped inside

‘When Mum saw it she was very emotional, it brought back a lot of memories,’ said head teacher Mark, now 43 and with three boys of his own

‘When Mum saw it she was very emotional, it brought back a lot of memories,’ said head teacher Mark, now 43 and with three boys of his own

Aged two, Mark Court was caught on camera feeding his 12-month-old brother Matt a chip while their mother shopped inside.

‘When Mum saw it she was very emotional, it brought back a lot of memories,’ said head teacher Mark, now 43 and with three boys of his own.

‘When my own sons saw the photo it brought up conversations about how she left us in the pram outside alone. 

‘They were shocked. But that was how it was back in those days.’

Matt, 41, added: ‘It was great to go back and recreate the photo last year and catch up with family. I’ve got a copy of the picture on my wall now.’

Thanks to the loan of his grandfather’s cap and chimney broom, nine-year-old Andy Ireland won the fancy-dress event at the Gladstone Street Carnival in Peterborough in 1981

Andy has gone on to attend rather more impressive competitions. He was sports physiotherapist for Team GB Tennis at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympics, and was Andy Murray’s personal therapist for five years

Thanks to the loan of his grandfather’s cap and chimney broom, nine-year-old Andy Ireland won the fancy-dress event at the Gladstone Street Carnival in Peterborough in 1981

Thanks to the loan of his grandfather’s cap and chimney broom, nine-year-old Andy Ireland won the fancy-dress event at the Gladstone Street Carnival in Peterborough in 1981.

Andy has gone on to attend rather more impressive competitions. He was sports physiotherapist for Team GB Tennis at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympics, and was Andy Murray’s personal therapist for five years.

He posed with the same broom last January.

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