BACK TOGETHER: Judith Hill with her long-lost love, Peter Pennick. The pair have been reunited after 30 years and a search acro
BACK TOGETHER: Judith Hill with her long-lost love, Peter Pennick. The pair have been reunited after 30 years and a search acro

Fate tore couple apart 30 years ago


SPRING is in the air and wedding bells are beckoning Judith Hill and her long-lost love, Peter Pennick.

Reunited after losing each other for 30 years and a search by Judith over four continents, The Channon couple marvel at how fate tore them apart and then conspired to bring them back together again.

Their story began in Rhodesia in 1969.

She was 18, he 19. They fell madly in love and Judith became pregnant.

But a civil war was raging and Peter's mother used this an excuse to break up the relationship, which she thought was not good for her son.

Under the laws of the land at that time, she had the legal power to enlist him in the army, despite his objections.

Peter never got to see the baby boy who was born from that union, and years were to pass before he saw Judith again.

"I had no partner, no family support, and no government benefits available to me," Judith said.

"I had no choice but to have the baby adopted at birth. It broke my heart and my spirit.

"I caught just a glimpse of his wispy red hair before he was bundled away."

Judith grieved so deeply for her baby and for her lover that a deep depression and, eventually, amnesia set in as a result of the trauma.

"I thought I would die with the sadness," she said.

Judith left her homeland to bury her grief.

She travelled to Australia, married twice, had two children and settled at The Channon.

Peter, too, left Rhodesia. A draftsman by trade, he moved to Tasmania and took a government job, married, had two children of his own and divorced.

In 1998, following her second divorce and a period of personal growth and exploration of who she was, Judith set out on a mission ? to find her long-lost lover and her son.

Years of detective work following countless leads and many trips to South Africa eventually turned up her baby's birth certificate ? but Judith could get no information about her baby's adoptive parents.

"So then I spent years going through government archives and old phone books from around the world, contacting every Pennick I could find in Canada, America, England, South Africa, Austria and Australia," Judith said.

"In final desperation I decided to place one last advertisement in a Zimbabwean paper asking for any information about the Pennick family."

As fate would have it, Peter's mother, who just happened to have been visiting relatives in the area on that day, was mugged as she was leaving for her home town.

"She had to sit at their home and wait for the police, so she picked up that day's paper and saw the ad," Judith said.

"She rang Peter's half-brother, who rang me. I was astonished to find that Peter had been living in Tasmania all this time."

"I never ever forgot her," Peter said yesterday.

"She was always in my heart.

"After a long letter-writing and telephone re-acquaintance, I sent her a plane ticket to Launceston where I was living for a Valentine's Day reunion in 1999.

"It was just amazing.

"It was like the 30 years had never passed. We just picked up where we left off."

Judith said: "It was a magical and wonderful and romantic and exciting time all rolled into one."

Peter eventually moved to The Channon to be with his love, and took a job with a firm of Lis- more architects.

Now they are planning their upcoming wedding.

And yes, they have found their long lost son, Mark, who is now 35, and lives in Cape Town, South Africa, with his wife and young son.

Mark had a good life with his adopted parents, who are now both dead.

"Family means a lot to Mark and he is so excited at having us in his life now. We have met and it was a wonderful reunion," Judith said. "He will be here for the wedding, when we eventually get around to organising it."

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