Long Distance Links

The ties that bind

By Ted Blowers


It’s amazing but my life has been a series of coincidences, two I have told you about already and here is another.

My wife and I was sitting in a restaurant in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. At that time we were living in a place 200 miles northwest of Edmonton and were in town to see our sons and do some shopping. We stopped for lunch at a regular type restaurant, with the normal sort of noise that you encounter. At an adjacent table were a couple who at that time I would imagine to have been about the same age as ourselves - early 60s. With them was a young girl and they were explaining to her that when she went swimming, it wasn’t going to be like it was at home in the lakes - it was going to be much colder. It was obvious from by their accents that they were English and obviously came from somewhere close to us. We asked if the little girl was going on a trip to England. They said, "Yes" and we said, "Oh whereabouts?" and they said, "Near Brighton". We then said that we knew Brighton well and asked whereabouts they meant and they mentioned Crawley. We then reinforced what the grandparents had been saying about the sea being very cold in England, and asked where home was.  They replied that they lived in Manitoba. Now this is where it gets interesting. When we  asked where in England they came from, they replied, "Near Tooting". On hearing we knew Tooting well, they added that it was nearer Mitcham really. Further prodding revealed they came from Carshalton.  We nearly fell out of our chairs when it turned out they came from "a place called St Helier estate".

As you can imagine this really blew our minds. We were 200 miles from home, they were nearly 1000 miles from home, and we were talking about a place about 4000 miles away, where we both came from. We asked the inevitable question about addresses and he replied,  "Wigmore Road". His wife couldn't remember the name of her street but knew it was just a couple of streets away. She asked, "Where did you come from" and we replied,  "Waltham Road". They then said they had relatives in Waltham Road and their name was Sweeney! Well, we couldn’t believe it -  we shared the gateway with the Sweeney’s. They lived at 89 and we lived at 91! It was then old home week and we talked about the families and the estate. The wife told us that she was maid of honour at Chris’s wedding and told us that that is where she met her husband. He was a friend of Chris and used to play in Chris’s band before the war. Chris was captured at Dunkirk. I told them that we had a picture of that wedding which of course the wife would have been in.

Now we come to the sad bit. We swapped addresses and we promised to send her the photo but sadly, though we searched high and low, when we returned home we were never able to find it. This was over twenty years ago now, so it is unlikely that I will ever be able to fulfil our promise. I still cannot believe four people from the estate would meet in a restaurant by chance where both couples were far from home, and yet managed to meet for a magic moment. I will post the photo of Chris’s wedding and if anybody out there recognises anybody that they know, particularly the maid of honour, if she’s still alive I’d like her to have the picture.



Photo:Chris Sweeney's wedding

Chris Sweeney's wedding

Ted Blowers

This page was added by Ted Blowers on 28/05/2014.
Comments about this page

What a wonderful tale, how can you explain a "coincidence " such as this.   Seems to me, you were meant to meet, and progress the situation.

By Jacky Flight
On 09/05/2015

Lovely story Ted, I had close similarities when living in  Perth, WA.

So you lived in Waltham Rd,  91 must have between Tintern and Thornton. Of similar age you were obviously at Tweeddale Rd circa 45 to 48 as was I. Do not recall your name although do remember quiet a few classmates.

By Terry Kates
On 03/08/2015

What a wonderful surprise to see this wedding photo as I have the same one because I am the little bridesmaid in this photo as a three year old standing in front of my uncle Ernie. The bride Lillian Sweeney, nee Page is my Aunt who sadly died a few years ago and she lived at number 97 Waltham Road.  Chris and Lil had two daughters Christine and Pat who both have grown families and grandchildren.  I do not remember the names of the other bridesmaids or maid of honour but I will be letting my cousins know about this, they live in Crawley and Norfolk, and hope they respond too. 

 Thank you Ted Blowers for this, what a small world.

By Pat Collings, nee Holmes
On 13/10/2015

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