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British Man and American Woman, Both 100, Have Been Pen Pals Since 1938: 'She's Always Been There'

A collect image of Geoff Banks and Celesta Byrne, when they met for the first time in 2002, in New York
A collect image of Geoff Banks and Celesta Byrne, when they met for the first time in 2002, in New York

SWNS Geoff Banks and Celesta Byrne, when they met for the first time in 2002

Friends for life.

Although there's almost always been a pond between them, Geoff Banks, who is from southwest England, and American Celesta Byrne have been writing to each other since 1938, according to SWNS.

"I honestly struggle to remember how we got in touch, but I was talking to Celesta recently and I think it was something to do with an American school's scheme," Banks, a former engineer, told the news outlet.

"They matched us up with Americans for a pen pal relationship, and somehow I ended up with this letter from an American girl, and we just kept corresponding ever since," he added.

Geoff Banks at his home in Honiton, Devon
Geoff Banks at his home in Honiton, Devon

SWNS Geoff Banks

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After decades of sending letters overseas, the pair — who both turned 100 this year — rely on emails and Zoom calls.

"Now of course she is partially sighted, so I correspond mainly by email," Banks told SWNS. "Email is much easier for me these days too because I can't write very well anymore."

Video chatting is an even newer development.

"I have this new thing called Zoom, I think, now to chat with her, but I leave all the technology to younger people. They're much better at pressing all the buttons," he remarked.

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One thing that's never changed over the years is their unique bond.

"She's a very interesting person," Banks told the BBC. "We exchange stories and she's very good to talk to."

A letter Geoff Banks received from his penpal Celesta Byrne, dated 1953
A letter Geoff Banks received from his penpal Celesta Byrne, dated 1953

SWNS A letter from Celesta Byrne, dated 1953

"Celeste has had a number of children and unfortunately lost one recently, so we chat about family too," Banks told SWNS.

However, there is one topic that's off limits. "We don't discuss the football," he said.

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As for whether there was ever any spark between the pair, Byrne, who lived in New Jersey but has since moved to Texas to be near family, shut down any questions of romance.

"No, we're just friends, like people who live next door," she told the BBC. "You ask how they're doing, you say a few words and then you both go to work."

A collect image of Celesta Byrne (middle), with friends in 1939
A collect image of Celesta Byrne (middle), with friends in 1939

SWNS Celesta Byrne with friends in 1939

Although they've only met in person two times, first in 2002 during a trip to New York and then again two years later, Banks said that his friendship with Byrne has always been somebody he could depend on — even when WWII made writing to each other difficult.

"She's always been there to write to, even if it was just birthday cards and Christmas cards," he told SWNS.

Speaking with the BBC he noted that it's been a "source of great satisfaction to write to her for over all these years".