Fifteen years ago, the Swindon Advertiser reported on a seemingly remarkable chain of events full of coincidence which had taken place in June 2001. That month, a girl named Laura Buxton was attending her grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary celebration in Staffordshire, England, and with some prodding by her grandfather decided to have a bit of fun with one of the helium balloons adorning the festivities. She wrote out a message bearing the instructions ‘Please return to Laura Buxton’ along with her address, attached it to a gold-colored mylar balloon, and set the combination loose to float off into the sky on a windy day. Then, according to the Advertiser:
The discovery of a deflated balloon in a hedge has sparked off an amazing series of coincidences for ten-year-old Laura Buxton from Milton Lilbourne, near Marlborough, and her namesake who lives 140 miles away in the Midlands.
The tale of the two Lauras began when Andy Rivers, of Milton Lilbourne, was checking cows in a field and found a balloon in a hedge.
Closer inspection revealed the balloon said “Happy 50th Birthday” and had a label on it with the name Laura Buxton and an address near Stoke on Trent.
Mr Rivers knew his neighbours Peter and Eleanor Buxton had a daughter called Laura so gave the balloon to them.
That was the start of the discovery of a series of coincidences involving the two girls who live a three-hour drive away from each other and are not related.
Laura, ten, who goes to Kingsbury Hill School, Marlborough, obeyed the instruction on the balloon tag which said: “Please write to Laura Buxton.”
She was surprised to get a telephone call from the other Laura, who is nine and also an only child.
The girls discovered they shared more than a name and just a few months difference in age.
They are both fair haired, in Year 5 at primary school, have black three-year-old female Labrador dogs and have a rabbit and a guinea pig each.
By an even greater coincidence the grandparents of Laura, from Stoke on Trent, Terry and Margaret Buxton, are currently travelling the Kennet and Avon Canal and were moored at Wootton Rivers.
The girls are now hoping to meet one day and the Milton Lilbourne Buxtons have invited their Midlands namesakes to visit them in the Pewsey Vale.
Indeed, a farmer in Milton Lilbourne, Wiltshire — about 140 miles away from Staffordshire — had found the balloon in a hedge adjoining his property. He was about to discard the deflated balloon in the rubbish when he spotted the name “Laura Buxton” on the attached note, and knowing his neighbors had a daughter by that name, he delivered the balloon to their home instead.
But the neighbors’ daughter wasn’t the same Laura Buxton who had sent the balloon winging on its way from Staffordshire; she was a different girl who coincidentally bore the same given name and surname as the originator of the message.
Laura Buxton #2 in Milton Lilbourne, Wiltshire, wrote to Laura Buxton #1 in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, to inform her that her balloon had been found and report the unusual coincidence of that it had ended up in the hands of someone with the very same name. The two girls got in touch by telephone, and the coincidence was amusing and harmless enough that the girls’ parents arranged for them to meet face-to-face, whereupon they discovered a number of similarities beyond the two girls’ sharing a name: the Lauras were the same height, had the same build and eye color, both were fair-haired, both wore jeans with pink jumpers to their initial meeting, and both had grey rabbits, guinea pigs, and three-year-old black Labradors as pets. Both girls brought their guinea pigs (which were of the same color with similar markings) to their initial meeting.
Outside of the similarity in the girls’ names (and they didn’t have terribly unusual names), much of this tale isn’t all that remarkable: it’s hardly amazing that two girls of similar age would be the same height and build, or that two girls from the same geographic region would have the same color of hair and eyes, or that two young girls would keep the same types of animals at home (since Labrador retriever dogs, rabbits, and guinea pigs are all very common household pets). Nonetheless, the balloon coincidence led to the two Laura Buxtons’ striking up a friendship that was unlikely to have begun without it, and the girls have kept in touch ever since, with the mother of Laura Buxton #1 reporting nine years later that:
[The] Laura Buxton that released the balloon is my daughter and she is now 19 years old. The girls are still very good friends and meet up as and when time and commitments allow them — in fact, they are meeting again before they both go back to University. We have no idea why this happened but it did and out of it has come a wonderful friendship.