TWO friends who had lost contact for 30 years have been reunited after one recognised the other’s picture in a Northern Echo article.

Television crews captured the moment when Ian Young, 75, and Earnest Cheesebrough, 88, shook hands again for the first time in three decades, after a charity run campaign helped bring them together.

The reunion was made possible after Mr Young saw a picture of Mr Cheesebrough in a Northern Echo article about Age UK’s Winter Warmth initiative and got in touch with the charity to arrange a meet-up.

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Mr Young said: “I was very surprised because I thought he would have been dead.

“I recognised him as soon as I saw the picture.

“Mind you, we both had a little bit more hair back then so I don’t blame him for not recognising me”.

Mr Young, a former Durham Council finance officer, regularly worked with Mr Cheesebrough who was a senior accounts officer at Aycliffe School and soon became good friends.

However they lost contact with one another after their careers developed.

Mr Cheesebrough praised Age UK’s Good Friends’scheme for helping bring him and his friend together again.

He said: “It is a marvellous idea. I would not have met Ian again if I hadn’t got in touch with Age UK.

“I walk with two sticks so I thought I would need some help going to the shops when it got icy in the winter – so it wasn’t going to be a permanent thing.”

In addition to helping to reunite him with his old friend, the Good Friend scheme has also helped Mr Cheesebrough combat loneliness.

Gillian Peel from Darlington Age UK, said: “It’s great that they have been reunited, and I don’t think this will be the last sort of this story to come out of Darlington.”

The charity already has hundreds of volunteers, but not enough elderly people to match them with.

Mrs Peel added: “We want this sort of attitude to be the ethos of Darlington.

"We want elderly people who feel like they could benefit from the Good Friends scheme know about this.”