WHEN they met they were only in pigtails, but Alaine Shaw and Joanne Sutcliffe soon realised that their friendship was pretty special.
More than 32 years later, the best friends are marking their 40th birthdays with a trip of a lifetime.
The pair are jetting off on a six-star luxury break after making a pact 10 years ago to save up for the special occasion.
And for them, the holiday is the perfect way to celebrate a friendship which has lasted through the highs and lows of their lives.
Alaine and Joanne met at the age of eight when they were placed in the same class at Marsden Junior School. They soon became inseparable.
Joanne said: “I can’t remember not knowing Alaine, we’ve always been friends. I remember quite early on when the school dinner ladies went on strike and we had lunch together then went to her house.
“We were split up in classes at Colne Valley High School, but we always met up at break time. In the fifth form when I got a job at the sweet shop she would come in, put 10p on the counter then eat her body weight in sweets!”
Alaine and Joanne were separated when Alaine left Huddersfield at the age of 26 to go travelling.
Children’s services worker Alaine later settled in Derby, while Joanne, a quality assurance technologist for a textile company, remained in Marsden where she still lives with husband Neil and their two children Aaron and Max.
But the pair have always made the effort to keep in touch with letters and phone calls.
Alaine said: “I think we’re such good friends because we’ve got the same sense of humour.
“We’re always playing silly practical jokes on each other, so I would definitely say a massive part of our friendship is laughter – that and shopping!
“I’m godmother to Joanne’s two children and we’ve always been there for each other through the good and bad times in our lives.”
When the pair celebrated their 30th birthdays they decided to save for a special holiday to mark their 40th birthdays this year.
They opened a joint account and have spent the last 10 years saving up.
Alaine said: “We’re both shopaholics rather than savers so we joked we’d never be able to save the money. But we didn’t withdraw any of our savings.
“We wanted to do something really special to commemorate our birthdays and our friendship. We wanted to spend our money on something we would ordinarily not be able to afford.”
The pair decided on five day break to the swanky Al Husn hotel in Muscat, Oman.
They saved £3,000 for the break, plus £1,600 spending money.
Joanne said: “I can’t wait to go out there, relax and experience a little luxury. This really is going to be the trip of a lifetime.
“We plan to keep saving money and go on luxury holidays to mark our birthdays every 10 years.”