A Finaghy man has spoken of his shock and delight at a chance reunion with his best friend, 54 years on. Jimmy Kennedy, 70, had the
surprise of his life when he met his former boyhood friend Colin Bishop at a Garden Party in Buckingham Palace, while marking
Barnardo's 150th anniversary. Both Jimmy and Colin had grown up in Barnardo's children's homes. Jimmy at a home in Whiteabbey
from the age of six after his mother died, and Colin in Manchester from the age of eight. Jimmy said: "1 was the eldest of five when
my mum died and our Dad couldn't cope. Going to Barnardo's it felt like we had been lifted out of Belfast to somewhere that felt like
"We had three meals a day, clean clothes and baths five days a week. We went to the local school and the staff at the home were
excellent. We felt cared for. If I hadn't gone into Barnardo's I don't know where my life would have gone, but it worked for me."
In 1957, aged 13, both Jimmy and Colin moved to Barnardo's training school in Hertfordshire.
Jimmy was training in shoe and boot repairs and Colin in carpentry. Their friendship was forged by a mutual love of sport-football,
cricket, crass country you name it, they were playing it.
"The first time I met Colin was when he was sitting in the school reading a newspaper," recalls Jimmy. I supported Burnley and asked
if there was any news on them in the sports pages. He was a Manchester United supporter and that's how we got talking."
The pair were even chosen as ball boys at Wimbledon because back then it was the tradition for the tennis tournament to pick
"I've met lots of people during; my life, but Colin really was the best friend I ever had. I even named my second son Colin after him,"
In 1962 the pair left Barnardo's Willian Baker Technical Scholl and went their separate ways. Jimmy moved back to Belfast and
Colin went to his home city of Manchester.
They both moved on with their lives getting jobs, married, having children and then grandchildren too.
Jimmy added: "We'd made a vow to meet up after we left Goldings but for some reason it never happened.
"It wasn't so easy back then before the internet and mobile phones to keep in touch. "My wife Eileen tried to find him online but never
succeeded. I asked Barnardo's but they had no recent records about where Colin was either."
"I'd been searching for him for years too," says Colin, who is now registered blind. "I never even knew if he was still alive or dead. I just
wanted him to have made a success of his life."
Jimmy and Colin were included on the guest list along with their wives but neither of them thought the other old friend would be there.
They happened to be sitting in adjoining groups on the lawn when Jimmy overheard someone mention Goldings so he went over and
said he had been there.
He explained: "The person said, 'Not Jimmy Kennedy the goalkeeper?'. I said, 'yes' and asked him his name. I couldn't believe it when
he said he was Colin Bishop. It was incredible that out of 6,000 people there I'd bumped into my old best friend by chance."
Colin said he was equally amazed: "I was totally gobsmacked when I met Jimmy again. It brought tears to my eyes to
have found him at last." In the Queen's garden the pair spent time reminiscing and filling in the many gaps after 54 years apart and Jimmy
was able to tell Colin he'd named his second son after him. Jimmy said: "I suppose I never thought we would see each other again after so
long. I felt it was such a pity as we
were such great mates. "It was lovely to meet up and hear that he had enjoyed a good life. We now have plans to meet up - maybe go and
watch Burnley play Manchester United next season if we can." "Now we've found each other again we certainly won't lose touch this time,"