A Middlesbrough pensioner left distraught after losing a letter sent by the Queen has been reunited with the correspondence thanks to detective work by a concerned councillor.
Cllr. Alma Hellaoui was out doing her rounds in the Newport ward when she came across 78-year-old resident Joan Clark frantically going through her recycling bin.
Joan explained that she was a keen published poet and had sent a piece of her writing to Queen Elizabeth II, entitled Inside a Palace Garden about a trip to Buckingham Palace, receiving a thank you letter in response.
However at some point Joan had mislaid the piece. She told Cllr. Hellaoui of a number of places she may have left it including mima and Middlesbrough Central Library – although by her own admission it could have been anywhere, including as far as Whitby.
Cllr. Hellaoui promptly asked the two named city centre venues if the letter had been handed in – to no joy.
However having left her number, “just in case”, the councillor was extremely surprised to receive a call from a member of staff at mima later saying the letter had been found.
Cllr. Hellaoui then managed to reunite Joan with her precious letter two days later.
In her thanks Joan said she had “travelled more miles than Gulliver” and added that “God sent me an absolute angel” in the local ward councillor.
Cllr. Hellaoui said: “I was amazed but absolutely delighted for Joan. She was so upset at having lost the letter and I think we both thought it would be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Joan thought it could have been at mima or the library but equally she felt it could have been in her house or anywhere between Middlesbrough and Whitby.
“I’m so pleased for her and I’ve brought her a frame to put the letter in for safekeeping.”
Joan said: “I absolutely overwhelmed with joy that people can be like Alma and be so kind. I had been to the doctors with my blood pressure and had been in an absolute state and then this happens. It’s incredible and I’ve told Alma if there’s ever anything I can do in return I will.”
To say thank you Joan has written Cllr. Hellaoui a letter, displaying many of her creative writing skills, and has promised to follow it up with a poem.
The letter reads:
I am writing to thank you so much after through your sheer kindness got my most treasured letter from Her Majesty The Queen back in my possession because I’d travelled more miles than Gulliver, besides tipping, tearing, turning every possible item. I got to near despair when I thought my ordeal was at an end God sent me an absolute angel - that was you.
Nobody knows how relieved I was when you knocked on my door and said “Joan! I’ve got it! The letter you thought was lost has been found and is in the mima.” I was dumbfounded and won’t forget that in the middle of all that wintry frost and treacherous galey northern storms, showers, sleet, snowy throws you found it in your heart of hearts to go to mima in order to strike that one piece of luck which got my letter back. I won’t forget you ever and am rendering a million thanks because that’s how much it meant to me.
So God bless you always.
Pictured: Cllr Alma Hellaoui (L), with Newport resident Joan Clark, holding her letter from Buckingham Palace.