YEARS of happiness between families in Huddersfield and Norway have been provided by a penpal link spanning more than 43 years.

The Castle family and the Granheims demonstrate true friendship and cultural unity, says Mrs Eleanor Castle, of Chiltern Avenue, Oakes.

And she believes that if more people extended the hand of friendship to others, there would be less war and disharmony in the world.

"The meeting of our families came out of tragedy, a family death, but it has led to years of happiness," said Mrs Castle, 81.

"Berit is 60 now, but she calls me her English mum and our families share letters, holidays and many happy times."

The relationship started in 1959, when Mrs Castle's sister holidayed in Norway with a friend following her husband's death.

They stayed at a hotel run by the Granheim family in the village of Hallingdal, and Berit, who was 16, asked if they could find her a penpal.

Letters started to be written between Berit and Mrs Castle's daughter, Angela.

They met in 1961, on Berit's first trip to England, when she toured the then Examiner building in Ramsden Street.

The visit was repeated 25 years later, when Berit's daughter, Margit Irene, and Angela's daughter, Elaine Crowther, were shown round the Examiner.

Mrs Castle started writing to Berit after the death of her mother and told her that she and her late husband, Arthur, could be her English mum and dad.

Since then, there have been several meetings between the families, for holidays and family weddings .

Mrs Castle has recorded all her trips in several diaries which she spends hours reading and re-living the happy memories.

She has also given several talks to groups in Huddersfield about her travels in Norway and holidays at Berit's home near Bergen.

"The people in Norway are so relaxed and it is such a clean country. In every home I visited I was given a special cake to cut and given the first piece as a guest," she said.