Monday, Jul. 14, 2008
ANN YORK will soon be making the journey she has always dreamed about – a poignant visit to a Canadian town which has honoured her late father.
She has won the chance to make the trip of a lifetime thanks to a Telegraph competition.
We asked readers to tell us where in the world they would most like to visit and why.
Hundreds of stories came in from across Coventry and Warwickshire, but it was Ann’s moving tale which got the judges’ vote.
The former dinner lady told how she had never been able to see the street named after her father, Frank Woodward, who fought in a famous battle in the Second World War.
Ann, aged 60, of the Hiron, Cheylesmore, Coventry, will now be able to proudly walk down Woodward Crescent in Ajax, Canada.
Her dad was a crew member on the HMS Ajax which, together with HMS Exeter and HMS Achilles, defeated the Graf Spee in the famous Battle of the River Plate in 1939.
The town decided to honour the crews by naming roads after them.
Ann had a letter from the mayor of Ajax six years ago inviting her to attend a tree-planting ceremony in the road.
But she was recovering from cancer at the time and couldn’t make it.
Now she will have that chance thanks to sponsors Birmingham International Airport and its partner airlines and tour operators which will pay for the flights and spending money to cover accommodation and other treats for Ann and a companion.
Ann said she would “jump for joy and probably cry as well” if she won the holiday and that’s exactly what she did.
She added: “I still can’t believe I’ve won – it still feels like a dream.
“I do feel sorry for the other contestants but now I can fulfil the promise to my brother and father which was to walk down that street and pay tribute.
Her father died 17 years ago and mother, Alison, passed away eight years ago. Her brother Howard died three years ago.
Ann said: “Losing my father was like losing my best friend. He meant the world to me and we were so close.
“He would always ask how my children were and see if I was OK and would do anything for me.”
Ann, who is married to Mick and has a son Andrew, 33, will be taking her daughter Alison, 30, on the trip.
Wednesday, Jul. 9, 2008
Little Aisling Richardson never pestered her parents for a new Barbie or a pony. She craved just one thing – a baby brother or sister. And from the moment she could talk, she never stopped asking.
The youngster, who is now nine, little realised that her own existence was a longed-for blessing, and that another addition to the family would be little short of miraculous.
“She was desperate,” says mum Beverley, 39. “It was her one desire in life. She’d put coins in wishing wells, look at shooting stars and tell us she had asked for a brother or sister. It touched our hearts. We so wanted to make her happy.”
But Beverley’s husband Michael, a social worker, had been left infertile following cancer treatment 25 years ago. Aisling had been conceived using his frozen sperm and specialist fertility treatment – but this had failed when they had tried for another baby.
So imagine the family’s surprise and delight to discover that Aisling was to get her wish after all – miracle baby Eliza was on the way.
Astonishingly she was conceived completely naturally – a quarter of a century after doctors said Michael would never have children. “It’s incredible,” says Michael, 47. “Even the doctors are dumbfounded and haven’t heard of it happening before, especially after such a long period of time. I feel like I’ve won the Lottery.”
The Richardsons found out that Eliza, now five months old, was on the way last April, after Beverley, had gone to give blood.
“The nurse thought I had anaemia,” says Beverley, a primary school teacher. “She gave me iron deficiency tablets but they made me feel worse – nauseous and weak.”
Next she saw her GP and was shocked to be asked whether she had taken a pregnancy test.
She says: “I knew there was no way I could be expecting – Michael was infertile. But she needed to do it to rule it out. So I agreed.
“When the test came back positive, I couldn’t take it in.”
Michael was equally stunned by the news: “I thought Bev was joking. I was so surprised, I even joked that it couldn’t possibly be my baby. But obviously, it was.”
Michael from West Yorkshire, was 22 when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – a form of cancer. He needed radiotherapy, but was told it would affect his fertility. In all likelihood he would never become a dad.
In 1990, seven years after having radiotherapy, Michael was told the cancer was unlikely to return. It was then he met and fell in love with Beverley.
After they got married in August 1993, Michael felt the true pain of his infertility. “We wanted kids. But even though we had an intimate, loving relationship, and never used precautions, nothing happened. We accepted it was because I was sterile.”
Fortunately, Michael had been advised to freeze some sperm before his cancer treatment. In late 1997, after an assessment at the fertility centre at St James Hospital in Leeds, it was confirmed that using his frozen sperm was their only option.
So the next January, Michael and Beverley embarked on ICSI, a form of fertility treatment where sperm is injected into the egg.
Unfortunately, Beverley had a bad reaction to the drugs. “I suffered Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome,” she says. “My lungs flooded with fluid and I ballooned, putting on two stone in 48 hours. I was kept in hospital for two weeks.”
Yet two months later, Beverley bravely decided to try again. And this time, they were successful.
“We were speechless,” says Michael. “My frozen sperm, which was 17 years old by then, had actually produced a child.
“It had been such an outside shot.
We couldn’t believe it.”
On February 16, 1999, Aisling was born. “Her name is Irish for ‘vision’ or ‘dream,'” says Beverley, “which is exactly what she was to us.”
When Aisling was three, they tried ICSI again. But it cost £4,000 a time, and, after four failed attempts, they had to call it a day.
Michael and Beverley resigned themselves to having an only child.
But Mother Nature had other ideas. And on January 29 this year, Eliza came into the world.
“Eliza’s gorgeous,” says Michael, proudly. “I keep looking at her in awe. It’s phenomenal.
“The doctors can put it down to nothing other than that I’ve taken care of myself. I don’t drink, don’t smoke and I have a good balanceddiet.
I feel like Superman!”
Beverley adds: “Aisling is on cloud nine. She adores her little sister. One day, we’ll tell her. We’ve beaten cancer and infertility. It’s taken 25 years – now our lives are definitely complete!”
It’s incredible. The doctors are dumbfounded and I feel like I’ve won the Lottery
Big sister Aisling, nine, was conceived using sperm Michael had frozen in 1982
21 years Sperm frozen for that length of time was used by a British couple to conceive their first child in 2004
Durga Thangarajah was delivered alive and well in Australia in May after growing in her mother’s ovary instead of the womb.
4 years after her father’s death from cancer Jaimie-Rose Roberts from Chepstow was born in March using his frozen sperm
Monday, Feb. 19, 2007
A student was reunited with her stolen bike after her dad made a 360-mile trip to come to the rescue.
Mitali Manuel, a law student at New Hall, Cambridge, lost her treasured Raleigh bike when it was stolen from a cycle rack outside her college in Huntingdon Road.
When she told her father Arnand, 53, what had happened, he offered to drive from Manchester with a replacement bike.
But, in a bizarre twist, as he was dropping it off, he spotted Mitali’s original bike, and ran after the teenager who was riding it to confront him.
He said: “My daughter had called me really stressed and mad, because her bike had been stolen and it had disrupted her studies and routine – she couldn’t get to her faculty and library as easily as she had before.
“I offered to come down with my wife with a new bike for her, but when I was outside New Hall we saw a young man on a bike which looked just like hers.
“He was a good 100 metres away, so I ran after him along Huntingdon Road, and fortunately he stopped at some traffic lights, allowing me to catch up.
“He said he had found the bike in a bush and handed it over straight away – so I was able to return my daughter’s bike, which had a lot of sentimental value to her.”
Mitali, 21, said: “Dad ran through traffic, weaving his way across the road to reach the teenager on my bike, and I couldn’t believe I had got it back.
“It is my bike from my childhood – I did my cycling proficiency on it, and in Cambridge you grow very close to your bike because you spend so much time on it, so I was really pleased to be reunited with it.”
Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2007
A Hamilton father was still emotional yesterday after diving into the Waikato River to save his baby daughter on Wednesday.
Jared Bruning, 26, said he thought five-month-old Holli was dead as he dived into the water after her pram rolled off a river path and plunged down a cliff into the water.
Mr Bruning, a Fonterra worker, said Holli was under water for up to 20 seconds until he was able to free her.
He had been walking on the west side of the river with his wife Alicia and two-year-old Lily at 3.30pm on Wednesday when the incident happened.
The family was taking their usual route along Awatere Ave and Ann St towards the St Andrews Golf Course.
Both children were strapped into the buggy but Lily wanted to walk, so Mr Bruning put her on his shoulders, where she kicked off his hat and sunglasses. He and his wife reached for them at the same time and when Mrs Bruning let go of the pram, it shot off.
They watched it cartwheel several times, throwing their possessions out, before plunging down a 10m cliff into the river.
“It took all of about five seconds and it was in the water,” Mr Bruning said. “I just ran down the hill and just jumped off the edge.”
He swam to the pram, which was upside down.
While they were under water, he managed to unbuckle the straps and get Holli above the water.
“As soon as I got her into the air she started screaming. It was magic,” he said.
“I just held her on my tummy and I started swimming towards the shore.”
From on the other side of the river, Megan Muldowney heard the screams and assumed it was teenagers. Then she saw Mr Bruning in the water. She ran to a house and yelled out to call police.
The current took the pair about 100m downstream.
Mr Bruning said he managed to find a branch sticking out and grabbed it.
“Luckily there was a little rock shelf that was only a foot deep in water.”
Mrs Bruning, who could not see the drama, saw a water bottle floating in the river and thought they were dead.
Mr Bruning yelled that they were okay and sat in the water for 20 minutes “to compose myself”.
Two men reached him with a rope and took Holli.
Police and paramedics arrived on a quad bike borrowed from St Andrews Golf Club and took Holli and Mrs Bruning off the river path.
The family was taken to Waikato Hospital and discharged several hours later. Mr Bruning and Holli had swallowed water but were otherwise fine.
Mr Bruning said he was “pretty emotional”, unable to sleep, and would take a few days off work.
Holli was oblivious, he said.
The incident was similar to the death of Australian triathlete Kerry Lucas’ baby last month.
Her baby died after his pram rolled into Adelaide’s Torrens River when she answered her mobile phone.
Thursday, Jan. 18, 2007
Ricky Rawlins has been blessed.
“It seems like since I’ve been going back to church, things have been falling into place in my life,” he said.
Rawlins’ faith was bolstered by what he and wife of ten years, Gail Rawlins, both of Manning, call a modern miracle. In 2006, Rawlins was able to meet his long lost daughter Danielle for the first time since she was a one-year-old.
The story begins years ago when Rawlins was married to his first wife. One day he returned home from work to find both his wife and daughter Danielle, just an infant, gone.
“My first wife left me,” said Rawlins. “She left while I was at work. I came home and the baby was gone; she took the baby to Pennsylvania.”
Rawlins tried throughout the years to maintain contact with Danielle, trying to track her down through letters.
“I wrote letters, but they always came back ‘Return to Sender,’” he said. “The only picture she (his ex-wife) sent me was when she (Danielle) was one year old. That’s the last one I had seen of her.”
Rawlins’ ex-wife took Danielle to Washington, Pennsylvania before going on to live outside of Atlanta. She left Danielle to be raised by her grandmother, who for many years didn’t even know that Rawlins, Danielle’s father, existed.
“It was a messy deal,” said Rawlins. “I couldn’t find her. Danielle’s grandmother who raised her got all a one-sided story, nobody wanted to hear my half.”
Years passed and Danielle grew up in Pennsylvania. She knew some details about her father, like his full name and date of birth, but she had no idea where he lived or how to get in contact with him.
So she started a letter writing campaign, using the Internet and phone books and registries to track down as many people named Richard Rawlins as she could. She sent them letters asking them to get in contact with her if they knew about her dad.
Flash forward to a scene years later, after Rawlins and Gail were married.
“I was in the shower, and when I came out I saw Ricky was on the couch crying,” said Gail Rawlins, who still gets choked up when she describes the scene. “He was holding a letter and I knew it was from Danielle.”
“I was totally shocked. I was scared to even open it,” said Rawlins. “I kind of figured it was her when I saw ‘Danielle Slesh’ on the letter. I had a feeling she got married and it was her new name. Five minutes later I picked up the phone and called her.”
Tears were shed and greetings extended. Danielle came to Manning for a short visit two weeks before Halloween last year and father and daughter were reunited.
Rawlins has two sons and a daughter besides Danielle, and he always told them through the years, “You have a sister.”
“He was always talking about her,” said Gail Rawlins. “At Christmas time he would always get depressed.”
But this past Christmas was a little different. Rawlins and his sister went to Pennsylvania for three days to visit with Danielle and her family over the holidays.
Danielle is a nurse and is married to husband Corey Slesh, who works for Lens Crafters. The couple has a son, Kyle, and a daughter, Lucy, both of whom Rawlins got to meet for the first time.
Danielle presented her father with the best Christmas present he’s ever received, a photo album of Danielle with pictures from major events in her life throughout the years. He can see pictures of her graduations, her wedding and other moments he missed in her life.
The wounds from the past are healing and both Rawlins and Danielle are looking forward to the future. Rawlins has been accepted by Danielle’s grandmother and he says they’re good friends.
“When she gets some vacation time this year, Danielle’s planning on coming here for a week,” said Rawlins. “She says she loves it down here.
“And I’ll go to Pennsylvania if I have to,” he said. “We want to make up for the time we missed. She’ll come here once a year, I’ll go there once a year.”
Gail Rawlins believes that the story is testimony that miracles happen.
“I just think it’s a feel good story that says prayers can be answered,” she said. “God works in mysterious ways.”
“I definitely think it’s a miracle,” said Rawlins. “That’s what I would call it. I never dreamt that I would see her again.”
Thursday, Nov. 9, 2006
A U.S. man who fathered a daughter in Germany 22 years ago was reunited with her on German television, according to a media report. [Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know]
Glenn Godau was a U.S. Army warrant officer when Jennifer S’rgel, 22, was born near Ansbach, West Germany, before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
He was contacted in August by a German TV-production company to appear on “All You Need is Love” — a show that brings together long-lost family members, the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus reported.
A friend contacted the show after hearing S’rgel talk about wanting to meet her biological father. The father-daughter segment was filmed in mid-October in Cologne, Germany.
“They successfully got Jennifer there without her figuring out it was going to be her being surprised. It was pretty emotional,” Godau told the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus of Howell. “There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, let’s put it that way.”
After the show, Godau and his daughter spent 12 days together at her home in Bavaria. Godau learned S’rgel, a pediatric nurse, is engaged and gave birth to a daughter, Cecile, 12 weeks ago.
“Twelve days was not enough time. I jammed a lot of stuff into 12 days, I can say that,” Godau said. “It was the best time of my life.”
After Godau’s visit, he and his daughter are keeping in touch through phone calls, e-mail and text messages.
Godau learned that part of the reason he and S’rgel had trouble connecting was because her biological mother changed the last name on her birth certificate. [Daughters and Mothers: Making It Work]
Godau’s brother attempted to find S’rgel during business trips to Germany. Family members also tried to find her online for years.
Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2006
Superman, Spiderman and Wonder Woman are all fictional heroes who save the world everyday. They entertain kids of all ages with their super powers, cute costumes and witty one-liners. My hero has never been in the pages of a comic book or on television, he doesn’t wear a spandex costume, nor can he fly. His secret identity and everyday persona are the same and I’ve never seen him leap over a tall building.
He has done something that with every passing day the world is ever grateful for doing. [We Are Leaving at a Rapid Rate: A WWII Veteran Writes: Before, During, and After]
The way he speaks about his adventures makes my head spin. I can sometimes feel wind in my hair, the sun on my face and a tear in my eye. He has done things I can’t imagine, seen things I could never see and heard things that would make me cry.
He has sacrificed many things in his life so I could have a better future, so many things that in time will count in someone’s future. He has lost a good friend, but in return got to know someone new. He has married the woman of his dreams and a family that I am proud of.
Today is not only for those who have fallen, but it is also a day for those who came home and passed on their stories to the next generation. I could go on from now until forever and never have enough time to say that I want to say. Thank you, my hero, for everything. Thank you, my hero, for putting everything on the line for me.
Thank you, my Papa, for being my hero.
Wednesday, Sep. 20, 2006
A VANDALISED school climbing frame is set to be rebuilt by the dad of a pupil left heartbroken by the attack.
Colin Farrar had no hesitation in reaching for his toolbox after his nine-year-old son Lewis told him that the £1,000 play facility at St Peter’s Primary School in Hindley had been destroyed by vandals.
He went down to the Kildare Street school, assessed the damage and declared that he could repair the climbing frame with the exception of the smashed plastic slide.
Undaunted, his wife, Debra, then contacted Solowave, the makers of the climbing frame which was destroyed in an attack on Monday September 11, and they agreed to send a free replacement slide.
Local timber firm Laycocks, which is based in Ince, also agreed to supply some wood to help Colin with the reconstruction.
Now the couple have even managed to get another firm, GET Security Systems, to step in to provide a CCTV camera to deter vandals from launching another attack against the school.
DM Posters has also provided signs to warn people that there is CCTV installed at the site.
Debra, of Crompton Close, Hindley, said: “We didn’t want to rebuild it and these vandals to destroy it again. That would just upset the children more than ever. We wanted a CCTV camera and were hoping that a local company could donate one.
“People might also see the CCTV and it might deter them a bit.
“I just don’t understand what goes through these children’s heads.”
Lewis suffers from a little-known genetic illness, Common Variable Immunodeficiency, which affects him immune system and means that he must be injected with anti-biotics every three days.
Debra said that Lewis would often use the play area as a “quiet area” with other sensitive children wanting to get away from the more frantic atmosphere on the playground.
“Lewis came home in absolute tears because it had been broken. He was heartbroken. He always used to go and plays in that area. That’s his quiet space,” said Debra.
“We decided that there must be something that we can do. So Colin went to the school and he’s come back and said, ‘I can fix it’
“The school has been really good with Lewis so we really wanted to so something to help. We want to give something back and it would be great if we could get them a camera.”
The school has been experiencing a string of problems with vandals but the destruction of the climbing frame was the most costly so far.
Headteacher Carol Close was delighted that the climbing frame was being rebuilt and a camera was being installed.
She said: “It is fantastic. I was over the moon when I was told. It really is an answer to our prayers. The great majority of people are fantastic but the minority are affecting it for them
Friday, Jul. 8, 2005
Identical twins are rare. Identical triplets are even more rare. A Wisconsin couple now has both.
Matthew and Christine Rowe’s family just grew by three identical baby boys. The Eau Claire couple had identical twin girls two years ago.
The Rowes said their doctor told them the births are extremely rare, perhaps 1 in 15 million. No fertility drugs were used.
The mother of five said other than sleep deprivation, the hardest part is telling the boys apart.
She said they’re keeping track of the boys with the help of a marker on their tiny feet.
The couple didn’t use fertility drugs.