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Frome friendships formed in search for lost thumbstick

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A LOST thumbstick sparked a curious chain of events for a journalist and keen walker from Frome.

Sarah Murray was so distraught when she misplaced her faithful companion on her morning ambles  that she placed an advert in Frome Times offering a £25 reward for its return.

But she could never have predicted where the hunt for the stick would lead her, as she tells Frome Times.

“As a very early riser, my morning walks around Frome’s countryside tend to be solitary,” Sarah said.  “Although not quite. With my thumb in its comfortable Y-shaped handle, a stick is my constant companion. 

“Growing up in Dorset, thumbsticks were part of life. My father never went anywhere without his so I, too, adopted the habit.”

Sarah’s current thumbstick had been with her for several months.

“So it was with dismay that one morning I realized that, like the many umbrellas I’ve unwittingly abandoned over the years, it was no longer with me,” she said. “Distraught, I retraced my steps – but in vain. 

“I decided to put an ad in the Frome Times. ‘Lost in or around Frome,’ it read. ‘A faithful companion, my thumbstick. I am offering anyone who has found it £25 in gratitude for its return.’

“To be honest, I didn’t expect to hear anything. But as a journalist, I was glad to support local media by paying for a classified ad. And the ad with a photo I’d taken for my friend Jasper Winn, a writer and thumbstick enthusiast, at least marked its presence in the world.”

So, Sarah said, she was surprised to receive an e-mail after the paper came out. “It was from Fiona Puleston, who said she hadn’t found my stick but that her children, Hannah and Patrick, had seen the ad and were really keen to look for it. Could I suggest places to try? 

“I sent them a few ideas. Then, even more surprisingly, I received another e-mail, this time from Elaine Marie Ewens, a yoga teacher, who said she’d found the stick outside Frome Wholefoods on Cheap Street and left it with the shop’s owners Elma and Lucia. 

“It seemed too good to be true. But that week I was away and couldn’t be sure. So I had an idea. Perhaps Hannah and Patrick would enjoy another task. I asked Fiona if they’d like to go to Frome Wholefoods, take a picture of the stick and e-mail it to me. I’d call it ‘stick verification services’, which they kindly performed.”

The story then got even more curious, Sarah told Frome Times. “It turns out that the thumbstick Elaine found wasn’t mine. By strange coincidence, it seemed, someone else had lost a thumbstick at the same time as I had.

“I’ve collected the stick and will be its guardian until I meet its rightful owner. Elaine and I are now firm friends and share a love of dandelions. She suggested I donate the reward to the Somerset Wildlife Trust so I did that, matched her donation by buying a membership and topped up the donation on behalf of Hannah and Patrick in thanks for their verification efforts.”

The stick has brought together many people, Sarah concluded. “From Elaine, Hannah and Patrick and Elma and Lucia to thumbstick enthusiast Jasper, the Frome Times team and the Somerset Wildlife Trust. 

“So while I’ve lost one companion, through my thumbstick I’ve made some friends along the way.”

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