IT is a love story that could easily appear in the pages of a Mills and Boon novel.
A young woman in wartime Bolton falls in love with a handsome soldier who whisks her away to Canada.
The couple settle down, marry and have children. Their tale is the perfect romance — and not a single word is fictitious.
Now the romance, turned into a book called “A Bolton Girl’s Story”, has been accepted into the archives at Bolton Museum.
The autobiography, penned by former Boltonian Bernadette Surgeson — nee Morris — was passed to the museum by her second cousin, Brian Freeman.
Mr Freeman, who lives in Preston, said: “I thought it was important that stories like hers should be preserved. I contacted Bolton Records Office and was pleased when they accepted her story to put in their archives.”
Mrs Surgeson, now living in Cornwall, Ontario, grew up in Defence Street, Deane.
Now aged 83, she relates her life at school and vividly describes what the town used to be like, in a day when the mills and local traders dominated the high street.
Mrs Surgeson — who is a relative of James Gradwell, the Mayor of Bolton in 1960 — was 14 years old when the Second World War broke out.
She writes in her book: “The impact on young people was enormous — our lives were changed completely.”
The personal insight into her life is littered with anecdotes, including the time she and her friends were stopped by the police and summoned to appear in court for not having their identity cards on them.
Mrs Surgeson was 18 when she met her future husband, Norman.
She writes: “When I saw Norman I became speechless, a most unusual condition for me! From that day all formerly eligible young men ceased to exist. Common sense told me that I would never see Norman again, but teenage girls are not noted for their common sense.”
The couple stayed in touch during the war by writing to each other and, in 1948, Mrs Surgeson finally gained “passage to Canada”.
On her arrival, the two were kept separate overnight at a train station.
Mrs Surgeson said: “Norman and I were beginning to really feel like star-crossed lovers. Were we ever going to get time alone together? Fate had decreed that the delays would go on right to the end.”
They married on April 2, 1948. The couple had two sons. Sadly, Mr Surgeson passed away in 1991.
Mrs Surgeson said: “I have embraced my adopted home, but ‘home’ is how I refer to the land of my birth and I treasure my memories.”
A council spokesman said: “Stories like these disappear when people pass away or move abroad, so to receive a detailed account of someone’s life as they grew up in Bolton is a real asset to Bolton Museum and Archive Services.”