IN July 1946, Horsham’s Lesley Exell sent a letter to a girl in England who she had never met.
That first letter led to a 71-year friendship that culminated in Mrs Exell finally met Kent resident Betty Turner for the first time this month. 
Mrs Exell said the correspondence started when Mrs Turner’s parents had a school teacher as a lodger.
“He asked Betty if she would like a pen friend in Australia and then he wrote to Horsham High School and I accepted to write to her,” she said. “That began the story of 71 years.”
Mrs Exell said their letters went by boat in the early days.
She said she also often sent food parcels because England was having hard times just after the Second World War. “In the later years, aerograms became available,” she said. 
Eventually, the two women got to hear each others’ voices.
“We were corresponding for about 50 years when I noticed a phone number on …