Last year, pensioners Mick and Teresa Dunckley returned on their 44th wedding anniversary to the place where they first met – Ealing telephone exchange.
Openreach played Cupid to the pair after Mick wrote in wishing to take Teresa back to where their relationship began.
Dave Lynch, a chief engineer in Openreach, organised the trip after receiving Mick’s letter. He said: “It touched my heart. I really wanted to help fulfil their dreams. Before the visit I explained to Mick that he could expect a lot of changes. For example some rooms are now empty since the digital revolution and the demise of large electro-magnetic machines.”
Mick joined the Post Office as an apprentice engineer in 1967 when he was 16. He met Teresa in 1971 when she came to work as a telephonist. Mick was the only man on the floor, in charge of a switchboard staffed by 64 women.
They returned to the exact spot in the exchange where he first set eyes on her. Mick said: “It was love at first sight. Two days later, I made my move when I saw her waiting for a bus. I had a car at the time – a Hillman Hunter – and offered her a lift.”
They married two years later on 16 June. One month later, they upped sticks to work and live in Stoke-on-Trent – and hadn’t been back to the building since.
Mick, said: “Now 44 years, five children and six grandchildren later, we’ve started looking back.”
Openreach representatives met the couple at the exchange and presented them with champagne and flowers to mark their anniversary.
They couldn’t believe the changes. Teresa recalls that the women worked harder than the men. And Mick couldn’t’ believe just how quiet the rooms in the exchange are these days. He said: “Exchanges were so noisy, each call starting with a machine called a uniselector that would whirr and click. It was a real trip down memory lane.”