Pen pals celebrate 30th wedding anniversary

Ken and Patricia McLeod have returned to the Capital to celebrate 30 years of marriage after being young pen pals. Picture: contributed
Ken and Patricia McLeod have returned to the Capital to celebrate 30 years of marriage after being young pen pals. Picture: contributed
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A couple whose romance was set in motion by events nearly 100 years and three generations ago have returned to the Capital to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary.

Ken McLeod and his wife, Patricia, featured on the front page of the Evening News back in the 1980s, when the story of how their love grew through their time as teenage pen pals captured the imagination of the city.

Now, 30 years and two children later, the couple have returned to celebrate the ties of friendship forged in this city back in the First World War which brought them together after two generations.

Mr McLeod, 50, who grew up in Fairmilehead but has spent the last three decades in Ontario, Canada, said: “My grandmother, Nan Henderson, who lived in Montague Street and passed away in 1979, was best friends in her youth with a lady named Mary McEachern, who lived in St Leonard’s Street at the time.

“In 1920, Mary had to go to Canada to care for a sick relative, and ended up staying there, but she and my grandmother still kept in touch with letters and visits.”

It was during one such visit in 1977 that Ken first met Mary’s granddaughter, Patricia – his future wife.

“Mary’s family came over to Edinburgh for a visit when I was 14 and Trish was 13. I remember the date – it was May 13, and we talked about music while listening to Paul McCartney records,” he said.

The pair decided to become pen pals and exchanged letters regularly over the next five years, with Mr McLeod working as a porter in British Home Stores between 1978 and 1982 in a bid to save money towards a gigantic leap of faith.

“I emigrated to Canada when I was 19 to work and to broaden my horizons, but being nearer Trish was a big factor too, though we were just friends at that point.”

However, friendship quickly turned to romance, and the pair returned to the city where they first met to tie the knot in Fairmilehead Parish Church in 1984.

“My parents still live near the church so we may have a look while we’re over. I remember I wore a kilt and we had our reception at a hotel in Morningside. Unfortunately my grandmother had passed away by this point, but Trish’s grandmother, Mary, who was with us until 1990, was there.”

Since they married the couple have had two sons – Fraser, 23, and Roderick, 21. Roderick will be joining his parents on their anniversary trip, where he will get to spend time with his grandparents, William and Elizabeth McLeod.

William, who is 78, said: “My mother used to love it when Mary visited from Canada. They would go and have tea in Jenners and a catch-up. We were very happy when Ken and Patricia got together and it’s always lovely to see them when they come over.”

If you are an old friend of Ken McLeod’s and would like to get in touch, feel free to contact the Evening News.