Teenage sweethearts are still a picture of happiness

Teenage sweethearts Willie and Gerarda Clifford who will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary in December.

Teenage sweethearts Willie and Gerarda Clifford who will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary in December.

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When teenage sweethearts Gerarda Carlin and Willie Clifford exchanged photo-booth snapshots of each other more than 40 years ago little did they think they would one day end up on the pages of the ‘Derry Journal’.

The photos, complete with romantic messages, mysteriously ended up in Altnagelvin Hospital, and a kind-hearted person, realising they probably had a sentimental attachment for the couple, passed them on to the ‘Journal’ to see if we could reunite the snaps with their owners.

The photo Willie gave to Gerarda more than 40 years ago.

The photo Willie gave to Gerarda more than 40 years ago.

The ‘Journal’ managed to track down the couple who live at Glenaden Hill, Waterside, and we discovered the photos were taken at the start of their romance when Gerarda was just 17 and Willie 19.

The couple’s love story had a happy ending three years later when they were married and the Cliffords, who have six children and eight granchildren, will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary on December 2 this year.

After her initial surprise at being reunited with the photos, Gerarda was able to explain how they ended up in the hospital.

“I celebrated my 60th birthday this year and our children organised a photo display as part of my birthday celebrations.

The photo Gerarda gave to Willie in 1971.

The photo Gerarda gave to Willie in 1971.

“Some of the photos were still lying around the kitchen and I must have accidentally picked up the snapshots with an appointment letter I had for the hospital.

“I hadn’t even realised they were missing so we appreciate the fact that someone thought of a way to get them back to us, through the ‘Journal’,” said Gerarda. And who said romance was dead?