As It Happens

A tale of two Wakefields: British woman joins Quebec Facebook group by mistake, makes fast friends

Sue Perry was looking for a place on Facebook to give away an office chair and some books — but ended up making new friends from across the ocean.

Sue Perry lives in Wakefield, U.K. — and accidentally joined a group for Wakefield, Que.

Sue Perry poses with a care package sent to her by the residents of Wakefield, Que. after she joined their local Facebook group by accident. (Submitted by Sue Perry)

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Update, April 26, 2021: Scott-Milton Grace of Wakefield, Que., told As It Happens he has received a care package from Sue Perry of Wakefield, England.

Grace says he will hold a silent auction for some of the items in the package, with proceeds going to the Wakefield Emergency Fund, a local charity.

"There are like, 20 CDs alone of Yorkshire musicians," Grace said.

Original story below.

Some of the items contained in a care package sent by Sue Perry of Wakefield, England to the residents of Wakefield, Que. (Submitted by Scott-Milton Grace)

Sue Perry was looking for a place on Facebook to give away some books and DVDs and an office chair — but ended up making new friends from across an ocean. 

Perry lives in Crofton, near the city of Wakefield in the West Yorkshire county of England. Logging on to Facebook, she accidentally joined a group for Wakefield, Que., a small town just north of Gatineau.

"It was the skis and the ski boots and the warm clothing that sort of give it away, and also the place names I didn't recognise. Edelweiss, I think, were one of them," said Perry in an interview with As It Happens guest host Peter Armstrong.

Sommet Edelweiss Ski Resort is a ski hill in the other Wakefield — the one with all the snow. 

"I put a post up then to say, sort of, 'Whoops, I'm sorry I've joined the wrong Wakefield group, I'm in the U.K. and hope you all stay safe across the pond,'" she said.

Perry thought that was the end of it, but instead, the Canadians wrote back. 

"There were lots of people dropping in and chatting and asking how things were," she said. 

Around the same time, her daughter and son-in-law, both nurses, and her son, an outreach worker, had all caught COVID-19 from their jobs.

"Things were a little dark at that time ... so it was a lovely, lovely distraction," she said.

"I likened it to, it started with a snowflake and ended up an avalanche." 

When one of the group members, Scott-Milton Grace, put up a post saying that he thought they should send Perry a care package, she thought it was a joke — until people started chiming in, offering maple syrup and honey and all sorts of goods.

Perry says she was in a bad place when the mix-up happened, with the kindness that's resulted providing a welcome distraction. (Submitted by Sue Perry)

Grace found a box and put it in his office, she said, and told others they could come and drop off things for the care package. 

"And then when the box were full, people donated money to buy the postage, which is just absolutely fabulous. It's so, so humbling," said Perry.

"I shed a few tears actually."

Then, said Perry, Scott messaged her to say his local mayor wanted to send something along as well.

"So he sent this little package from the mayor in Quebec to our mayor in Wakefield that I have to pass along now," she said, adding there was also a package for her local newspaper, the Wakefield Express

And then when the box were full, people donated money to buy the postage, which is just absolutely fabulous. It's so, so humbling.... I shed a few tears actually.- Sue Perry 

Across the Atlantic Ocean came a plethora of goodies.

"There's about seven CDs of singer-songwriters, six or seven T-shirts, maple syrup," said Perry. "Lots of books written by local people. There's even colouring books of Wakefield. A little ceramic cup that someone has made. A dollar, a Canadian dollar. Some leatherwork."

Perry even got a 2021 copy of the annual Nudes of Wakefield Calendar.

"I remember someone said, 'We should send the nude calendar' and I thought that were a joke,'" she said, but the package proved otherwise.

The story of her mix-up and new friends was featured in the Wakefield Express.

"Since that went online, it's just been lots and lots of comments. Everybody thinks it's wonderful. Absolutely wonderful," she said.

A kind but mysterious message that showed up on the outside of the care package sent from Wakefield, Que., to Sue Perry in the U.K. (Submitted by Sue Perry)

Perry said she had heard that the Wakefield, U.K. mayor wants to send a return box, and she would like to contribute.

She thinks her situation has resonated because everyone is in the same boat, and looking for a distraction.

"When the box arrived there was little message written on side of it that Scott hadn't written on when he posted it, so it's been done either at the post office, or in transit," she said.

The message reads, "The spirit of love and kindness is alive and well in the heart of human kind."

Written by Andrea Bellemare. Produced by Kate Cornick.