Page last updated at 09:01 GMT, Tuesday, 15 July 2008 10:01 UK

Love letter jigsaw takes 15 years

One of the letters from Ted Howard to his wife Molly

A man spent 15 years piecing together 2,000 fragments of love letters to his late wife which she tore up when she caught someone reading them.

Ted Howard, 82, wrote 98 letters to Molly during the seven years he spent travelling Europe as a farm worker.

When she found someone reading them in 1953 she tore them up.

Mr Howard, of Ramsey in Cambridgeshire, began putting the pieces back together in 1993 and has just completed the notes, three years after his wife died.

He wrote the love letters on hotel writing paper as he travelled the UK, Ireland, France and Holland in the late 1940s and early 1950s. But his wife tore each one into more than 20 pieces creating more than 2,000 fragments, some smaller than a thumbnail.

It was love at first sight
Ted Howard

He started by separating corner and centre pieces and progressed, putting them together spending about an hour every day over 15 years.

One letter ends: "Well, my dear, I am looking forward to seeing you again.

"It seems months since Sunday when I last saw you. There does not seem to be a lot more to write about, my love, so until we meet again, I send you all my love, from your ever loving sweetheart, Ted."

Mr Howard said: "I still miss Molly terribly but having the memories helps me through.

Ted Howard spent 15 years piecing together the notes

"The letters brought back so many good times." He now plans to write a book based on the letters which will be dedicated to his wife.

The retired farm worker and machinery demonstrator, said: "It was love at first sight.

"No two ways about it. I was at a village feast (fair) and this girl jumped off the carousel and came careering into me.

"It turned out to be Molly. That was 19 July 1948."

Molly was 18 at the time and Ted was 23. They married in 1955 and went on to have three children and six grandchildren.

Ted wrote his autobiography before attempting to write a book about the letters.

His autobiography, Life on the Fen Edge, is due to published by Bound Biographies.

Ted developed his writing skills by studying literacy courses with learndirect.

His work was recognised when he won the Special Judging Panel Award at the regional learndirect achievement awards.

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