THREE former Whitefield schoolpals have enjoyed a reunion — 40 years on and 12,000 miles away.

Andy Russell, Dave Killeen and Gary Zabel met up again in Australia to share memories of growing up in Radcliffe and their days at Stand Grammar School in Whitefield.

Andy, aged 61, and Dave, aged 60, grew up on the same estate off Outwood Road and Gary, aged 61, was brought up in Top O’ Cross in the 1950s and 60s.

They teamed up Down Under where retired business executive Dave now lives in Queensland to watch the first Ashes Test at the Gabba in Brisbane.

Gary and Andy, who worked together as reporters on the Radcliffe Times in the old Church Street office, then took a road trip from Brisbane to Sydney before flying to Adelaide for the second test match.

The friends christened the reunion ‘Forty Years On’ after the Stand Grammar School song which they sung together as pupils.

Andy, a freelance journalist who now lives in Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire, said: “We had got back in touch after many years and Dave suggested a trip Down Under to watch the cricket.

“I met up with Gary at the Old Trafford test in the summer and he was very keen to come along to make it a real school reunion. I had only seen Gary and Dave once since our school days and Gary and Dave had not seen each other at all.

“So after the first day of the Brisbane Test we met up for dinner and had a few choruses of Forty years On — helped by a few glasses of wine. The first line ‘Forty Years On when afar and asunder, parted are those who are singing today’ seemed to be very apt as we looked back on our lives since school. We shared many happy memories.” Gary, who lives in Surrey after a successful career in publishing, added: “It was wonderful to meet up after all these years. We brought back to mind many old school friends and Andy and I reminisced about the start of our careers at the Radcliffe Times. Even England's performance in the cricket couldn't spoil such a enjoyable trip.”