December 6 2013 Latest news:
Friday, September 20, 2013
They patrolled the streets of Norwich city centre together as police cadets, but this week two old friends now separated by the Atlantic met for the first time in nearly five decades.
Peter Barnes and Roger Button first met in 1957 when they were police cadets in Norwich, and last saw each other in 1964.
While Mr Barnes served his full 30 years in the force, Mr Button moved into the newspaper print businesses, eventually moving to Venice, in Florida, and taking dual British-American citizenship.
However, he contacted the Norwich City Police Association before returning to the UK to visit a sick relative this month, and went to an association meeting at the Holiday Inn on Ipswich Road, before returning to the city on Monday to meet up with Mr Barnes.
The pair are now both 74, and Mr Button said: “It was wonderful. We have sat and talked for the last hour and a half about all that happened when we were young lads and police cadets, and then we went on to be police officers.”
He had sent Mr Barnes a photo ahead of their reunion, which was just as well as they did not recognise each other when they met.
Mr Barnes said: “I took him around some of the parts of Norwich that I thought he would have recognised and remember, but that was not the case. It was interesting to go to quite significant places and for him not to be aware of them.”
He said his friend saw the Forum and modern surroundings of Norwich City’s football ground for the first time, and when they went to see streets Mr Button remembered they found that they had completely disappeared.
Mr Barnes said he particularly remembered a nasty attack at Manning’s Cafe on King Street which saw four American servicemen attack two British sailors after a dispute.
“Roger and I were witnesses to that and it was a very serious case that ended in very long terms of imprisonment.
“Roger could not remember it at all, but I could remember it as vividly as it was at the time,” he said.
However, they shared recollections which included patrolling the Marks and Spencer’s corner of St Stephens Street, and having to use noisy equipment to turn road signs about parking arrangements which alternated on different days, regularly waking up half a street at 3am.
The pair agreed to keep in touch using email or Skype in the future, meaning it is unlikely they will have to wait another 50 years before their next communication.