AN AMERICAN school teacher is on a desperate search to find her childhood penpal from Cumnock.

Janice Wooten, 61, from Oklahoma and is determined to re-connect with Sheila Clark after writing to her for almost 10 years.

The pair met after spotting a magazine advert looking for over seas penpals when they were in their teens.

They wrote to each other for almost a decade, telling each other everything, from lives with their families to their shared teen crush, David Cassidy.

Over time they quickly became really good friends, for ming an unbreakable bond.

The pair always dreamed of meeting faceto-face but never got around to it, but now Janice wants to prove it’s never too late to rekindle an old friendship by flying out to Ayrshire.

Janice said: “When I was young the use of technology was a very limited source for communication around the world.

“I relied on the phone mounted to the wall and licking a stamp to send a letter overseas. I was a curious teenager and often found my nose stuck in one of those teen magazines.

“One day I was flipping through a teen magazine and noticed an ad wanting penpals for teens overseas .

"The ad really sparked my interest of having a penpal.

“I went home after school and wrote a letter to an anonymous teenager that lived in Scotland.”

Cumnock Chronicle:

The pair soon became fast friends as Janice learned all about Shelia’s life including how she attended Cumnock Academy and had two sisters Aileen and Joyce. Joyce was her older sister and was married.

Sheila would now be 60, but was just 14-years-old they first wrote to each other.

She described Cumnock as a small town with a picture house, swimming pool, camping site and tennis courts.

Janice added: “We wrote about our family, holiday events, school activities, boyfriends, music and anything else we were going through in life, good or bad.

“The years went by and school days were over Sheila got engaged and I became a mother to a beautiful girl. I sent Sheila a picture of my daughter and she wrote back saying how happy she was for me and my new family.

“She truly became a good friend, even though we never got to meet one another.

“I felt I could write and comfortably share anything that was going on in my life.

“ The last letter I received from Sheila was dated 1979.

“I’m not sure why we both stopped writing. Life has a funny way of distracting you and can detour your ability to recognise the value of friends.”

Now Janice is desperate to visit her long lost pal after re-discovering the old letters in keepsake boxes.

They made her wonder how and where Shelia is now, how she is doing, and if she would be up for meeting in person as well.

After having no luck searching social media for her she is now appealing to the public for answers.

She said:“Reading her letters again really touched my heart.

“She wasn’t just a penpal, but a very long time friend that for some reason we got disconnected.

“I would love to find her and actually come to Scotland and finally share a visit. If we did meet face to face, I would probably cry happy tears because her writing to me was memorable and our friendship should have never ended.

“If anyone knows Sheila please have her contact me so we can pick up our friendship again.”

If you can help Janice find Sheila call the Chronicle on 01290 421633.