Ravenstonedale Kirkby Stephen Cumbria

Remembering Anna - Australia Video Link 1999

Contributor: Stan Frost, Ravenstonedale

In 1999 Anna Stevens, from Grafton in New South Wales, Australia, arranged twelve months leave from her job with the Australian government to travel round the world. She never went back to her job. Her travels brought her to Ravenstonedale where she met and fell in love with Craig Robinson from Orton. The outcome was that they married in Australia

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Most of Craig's family and many of his friends travelled to Australia for the wedding but inevitably not everyone could go. In particular Artie, Craig's father could not travel. The situation was resolved when nearly 40 of Craig's family and friends gathered at Thackhowe, Ravenstonedale, the home of Stan and Paula Frost, to share in the reception celebrations via a video link. Stan arranged the link with Anna's father, Peter, in Australia. It proved impractical to link directly to the church but there were no restrictions on linking to the wedding reception and on Saturday morning at 10am, our time, connection was established. The link was made before Skype and social media made these connections easy and reliable. Although picture quality was not always as good as Stan would have liked, the link generated a very real and emotional sense of sharing in the celebrations and connection was maintained for 4 hours.

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During the transmission Anna was seen to look radiant in her dress, speeches were made, the cake was cut and Craig and Anna were seen to lead the first dance. Bottles of champagne were opened at both ends. Artie was able to communicate with his wife Marion and his daughters Anna, Donna and Kim. Anne Brownrigg was able to talk to her son David who was best man. Indeed David was seen to raise many a laugh with his speech and was heard delivering messages of congratulations from people within our parish.

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In his speech Anna's father referred to the wedding vows they had witnessed. He said Craig had showed his love for Anna by travelling across the world with his family and friends to take Anna as his bride. He used the video link as evidence that his daughter was travelling to a faraway place to be part of a safe and loving Cumbrian community. Everyone at the reception involved themselves in the link at some point and it was said in a phone call from Australia the next day that there was not a dry eye in the place.

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Craig's aunts, Brenda, Iris and Janet and his great aunt Isabel travelled to Australia for the wedding together with some of his friends including 'Philby', 'Guffy', 'JB', 'Robo', 'Baldrick', 'Brasshopper' and Andrew and Joanne. At our end those taking part included 'Bimp', Sarah and baby Jordan; Steven, Alison and Heather Bland; Greg Wilson and Jane Brooks; Sean Beach, Karen and baby Joe; 'Skip'; 'Woody' and Barbara Wood; Edward Wood; Steven and Anne Todd; Linda Hamer; Robert Airie; Janet and Katherine Brownrigg; Keith Buckle and Pauline, Sarah Barnes and Margaret Wildman. Cumbrian accents could be heard over the Internet all day. Lots of crack and lots of laughter travelled between the continents, tears were shed and emotions stretched.

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Following a honeymoon in Australia Craig and Anna returned to Cumbria to live in Orton. Artie and Marion are looking forward to taking things a little easier. A blessing was held for Craig and Anna at All Saints' Church, Orton, on November 2nd at 6.30pm. And following that we had yet another reception at the Shap Wells Hotel. More champagne! Thanks Artie and Marion!!

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No Fairy Tale Ending

Tragically on November 13th 2014 Anna, then aged 42, lost her battle with breast cancer and passed away. She left behind not only her devoted husband Craig but also their 2 children, Josh 9 and Lucy 7. On November 18th 2014 a Service of Thanksgiving for the life of Anna was held at All Saints' Church, Orton. Around 400 people turned out to support Craig and his family and to support Anna's father, mother and family who travelled from Australia to be at the service. The service brought together the many Young Farmers and locals who first befriended Anna when she first arrived in Ravenstonedale and stayed to work behind the bar in the King's Head. This is where she met and fell in love with Craig. During the brief time she spent with us Anna showed herself to be a very special person who touched the lives of everyone she met.

These fun-loving photographs were taken in January 1999 at the King's Head, Ravenstonedale, where we held a farewell party for her when she left the village to continue her travels. She came back to the man she loved!

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