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Pat, the nostalgic expat

PUBLISHED: 11:23 19 September 2008 | UPDATED: 21:19 05 July 2010

THE rise of the internet has made the world a smaller place. And for a former Lowestoft couple living on the other side of the world, that's been a boon and a blessing.

THE rise of the internet has made the world a smaller place. And for a former Lowestoft couple living on the other side of the world, that's been a boon and a blessing.

Patrick and Kathleen Larter have lived together in New Zealand for more than 50 years.

But despite being well over 11,000 miles away, they keep up to date with goings-on in their former home town thanks to The Journal's website.

Pat, born and bred in Ipswich, first met his Lowestoft-born wife at the Pier Pavilion, Felixstowe, in January 1949. They were married a year later and, after working in Ipswich and Nottinghamshire, an impulsive Pat responded to an advert seeking ex-servicemen for the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

“Back came the papers for us to complete, and, although we had three children by then, our application was successful and I was accepted into the medical branch. I arrived in New Zealand in September 1956 and my wife and children joined me 10 months later,” recalled Pat.

The couple were 27 and 28 at the time, and when they upped sticks they wondered if they would ever see their families in the UK again.

During an eventful career with the RNZAF, Pat was sent to Thailand, Singapore, Sarawak, and Sabah in 1964, and was one of the few Englishmen to serve in the Vietnam War - that was in 1967.

He returned to New Zealand in 1968, eventually leaving the air force in 1977 before working at the Christchurch Hospital for 14 years, and then as a welfare officer for the Returned Services Association. Pat finally retired last year, just a few days after his 79th birthday.

Describing his Lowestoft-born wife as the rock of his life, Pat said: “She did a great job holding the fort here in Christchurch when I was on various attachments.

“Since I got on the boat for New Zealand, life has certainly been different. Coming here in the 50s was like taking a walk back in time compared to UK. However, it all worked out well for us in the end and we now take things pretty quietly, enjoying nostalgic memories of Suffolk in general and Lowestoft in particular.”

Together, they have had seven children. Their eldest son died five years ago, but their three other sons still live in Christchurch, while their three daughters live in Auckland.

They keep in touch with events in Lowestoft both online and through Kathleen's sister, Ivy Baker, and sister-in-law, Irene Wood, who both still live in the town.

“We have been fortunate enough to achieve a couple of visits back home to see people and parts of the UK we had never been to before, helping us enjoy a blend of nostalgia and education,” said Pat.

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