Bexhill and American pen friends meet after 55 years

Doris Gitzy and Brenda Lulham
Doris Gitzy and Brenda Lulham

A Bexhill great grandmother and her American pen friend met for the first time in 55 years today (Friday, October 2).

Brenda Lulham and Doris Gitzy have been pen friends for 70 years and the last time they met in person was in 1960 when they were both 28-years-old.

Now 83, the pair got to chat and spend the day together at Brenda’s home in The Glades after writing to each other nearly every month since 1945.

“It has just been a wonderful friendship,” Doris said.

“It’s been a joy – she still looks like the Brenda I remember.”

It all started when Doris’ school class in Iowa were given a list of addresses to write to and find a pen friend.

Doris chose the British one and the recipient gave her letter to Brenda as they were both teenagers.

They instantly hit it off and have gone through life together regularly writing to each other about everything from their children growing up to losing their respective husbands.

“We used to send rather long letters but know I can’t get out very much so the letters got shorter but we still kept in touch,” Brenda said.

“I remember learning about the British rationing in the 40s and having to write ‘unsolicited gift’ on my letters so Brenda wouldn’t have to pay extra to receive them,” Doris said.

The pair last met when Brenda lived in Robertsbridge and had just given birth to her third child, Denise, who she gave the middle name Angela, to match Doris’ initials.

In total, they have eight children between them, and Brenda has three great grandchildren and six grandchildren.

They said all of them have grown up with a de facto aunt across the pond, showing how close friends they became.

“I remember Doris sent my son Michael a space ship for his birthday,” Brenda said.

“He treasured it and I think he still has it which just shows how much he liked Doris.”

Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.

Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.

1) Make our website your homepage at

2) Like our Facebook page at

3) Follow us on Twitter @BexhillObs

4) Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.

And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!

The Bexhill Observer - always the first with your local news.

Be part of it.