A devoted man is finally marrying his childhood sweetheart – 60 years after he first “bottled” asking her out in the primary school playground.
Romantic Robert Hale met Carole Fox on the first day of primary school in 1947 – when they were both aged four.
The couple, now aged 69, were in the same year at school and were friends but unbeknown to Carole, Robert carried a flame for her but never plucked up the courage to ask her out.
They lost touch when they left secondary school aged 15 and both went on to get married to other people and Carole had two children and two grandchildren.
Despite living 30 miles apart they never saw each other again until they met at a school reunion two years ago and got chatting over coffee.
Robert told Carole his wife of 21 years Diane had died in 2008 and she told him her partner Peter West, who she had been with for three-and-a-half years after divorcing her first husband, passed away in 2010.
He asked her for her phone number but was too scared to call and it was a further 18 months until he finally asked her out when they met again in April this year.
And after a whirlwind summer romance Robert finally popped the question and the couple are getting married tomorrow.
Retired civil servant Robert, from Halesowen, West Mids., who never had children, said: “It feels fantastic
“Meeting each other again came at the right time because we were both single – so we went out and it led to us becoming joined at the hip – we have been inseparable since.
“We realised there was an affinity between us.
“We are getting married because we are old fashioned and it’s a commitment which means you have got to make it work and can’t walk away.
“You have to grab it while you can because you don’t know how long it will last.
“The girls in our school were quite pretty, and even back then I thought she was gorgeous, but we were never boyfriend and girlfriend back then.
“In truth I admired her across the playground when we were about ten years old but bottled it when I went to ask her on a date.
“I don’t know what she would have said if I had but better late than never.”
The couple both attended Colley Lane Primary School, Halesowen, in the 1940s before leaving at 11 and going onto to Homer Hill Secondary Modern in the town until they left aged 15.
Five months ago they attended a reunion at their primary school and days later went on their first date together.
Robert said: “Our first date told me it was something special. We went into this little pub that I had not been into for 40 years.
“I knew the cup final was going to be on that evening, but as we chatted I just completely forgot about it, I was just too engrossed in chatting to her.”
Carole, a retired party planner for a fashion company in Malvern, Worcs., said: “Before our latest reunion both our partners had unfortunately passed away.
“When we got chatting at the do, Robert asked me for my number and said he would call me but never did because a friend warned him I was vulnerable.
“I was really sad and really wanted him to call but then we met again at the reunion this year and the spark was there instantly.
“He took me out one afternoon and we found ourselves sitting for seven hours in the pub after lunch.
“I knew it must have been something to him as well because he is a big football fan and gave up watching the cup final to spend the time with me.
“After going out with Robert a couple of times I knew there was something there.
“At school we were just friends – but we were both good at sport. He tells me now that he carried a flame for me back then but I never realised.
“We have a shared history and since then we’ve just been joined at the hip.”
The couple will tie the knot at Two Gates Ragged Chapel in Cradley, West Mids., two miles away from the school where they first met.
Carole’s two daughter, Andrea and Janine, in their 40s, and her two granddaughters 17-year-old Georgina and 14-year-old Charlotte will watch the nuptials before the couple drive to Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset for their honeymoon and stay at the same hotel where they went on their first weekend as a couple.