WALCHA resident Linda Ballard always regretted breaking up with her childhood sweetheart, Malcolm.
The two lovebirds grew up together in a suburb of Kent in the United Kingdom and started going steady in their early teens.
But when Malcolm chose to meet up with the lads one night instead of Linda, the couple had a row, broke up and moved on, eventually marrying other people.
But their love story didn’t end there.
About a quarter of a century later, Malcolm, who immigrated to Australia with his wife and two young sons in 1981, returned to his home town of Ashford, England, seeking solace following the breakdown of his marriage.
And it was here, at a car boot fair, that the two bumped into each other.
Sparks immediately flew, Linda recalls.
“I always regretted not being with him,” Linda said.
“All this time I carried a photo of him and he carried one of me.
“When we got together it was like we had never been apart.”
A short time later Malcolm’s holiday came to an end and he returned to Australia, but the couple knew almost instantly they wanted to be together.
After two long years and a rather laborious immigration process, the pair were finally reunited when Linda moved to Walcha, where Malcolm had resided for about 10 years, and in no time they became husband and wife.
Linda said she loved Walcha from the minute she arrived and on Saturday she cemented her place in the community, becoming an Australian citizen in front of her two children, family and friends after 16 years of living in the small town.
The British nationals have no plans to take their fairytale romance elsewhere.
“I love the Australian way and intend to end my days here,” Linda said.