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A perfect set of coincidences

Monday 24 May 2010

Ducklington villageFrom UK newspaper the Oxford Mail:

A perfect set of coincidences

3:43pm Thursday 13th May 2010

By Peter Unsworth »

IT was like something from The Archers. You know what I mean; a story line is revealed to listeners on Monday and all is miraculously sorted out in time for the Sunday omnibus edition. But life isn't like that – or is it?

In our true-life story, the coincidences were real and the resolution swift.

You may recall that in mid-April I met Josephine, a beautiful 20-year-old soprano who sang Ave Maria and other classics in Cornmarket Street, busking to help raise cash towards her tuition fees at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. It was one of those magic moments that stop the crowds in a city already filled with magic.

Last week an email arrived from Flora McKenzie, the mother of another 20-year-old, Samantha, who is to be married to sweetheart Jason Crouch on July 31.

Since she was 12, Samantha has suffered from the neurological disease, myalgic encephalomyelitis – ME for short – and is all too often confined to bed or to a wheelchair.

Her burning wish was to have Ave Maria sung at her wedding, for a fee of course. Could I supply Josephine’s address or phone number to see if she would be willing and available on that date?

I hadn’t asked Josephine for these details when we met below the tower of St Michael at the Northgate, but told Flora in the next Cabbages & Kings column, I would appeal for her to contact me.

But it never happened, because it proved unnecessary. In speed terms, our story left any Archers plots at the starting gate.

As I prepared to pen that appeal the morning after Flora’s call, another email arrived, this time from Caroline Organ-Jennings, the mother of songstress Josephine, thanking me – quite unnecessarily but nevertheless a welcome boost to the ego – for the article of a few weeks earlier.

Quickly replying to this email I very soon got her phone number so I could ring and tell her of Samantha’s hopes.

Here our story gets curiouser and curiouser. Caroline asked where the wedding was to be; Ducklington parish church, I said.

“But that's our church,” she replied, obviously surprised.

Overnight, links were forged between the two mothers; it turned out the families lived no more than a quarter of a mile apart. And yes, Josephine would be delighted to sing Ave Maria and follow it up with Over the Rainbow as the couple signed the register on the big day.

Smiles all round. But to put the finishing touches to our happy story, Samantha’s former junior school headteacher, who remembered her from long before illness struck, is, by way of a wedding present, providing a coach and pair of grey horses to take them from the church to the reception.

As Hannibal used to say in that old TV favourite, The A Team: ‘I love it when a plan comes together.’

The article originally appeared here.



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