Uplifting stories of 2023: Cobbler’s Cinderella hunt and a 244-scone journey

Uplifting stories of 2023: Cobbler’s Cinderella hunt and a 244-scone journey
(from left to right) Peter Corke next to Sarah Merker, who were part of uplifting stories this year (Peter Corke/Sarah Merker/PA)

A woman munching her way through a scone at every National Trust cafe and a cobbler who was part of a real-life Cinderella moment were among the uplifting moments in 2023.

Here is a look at some of the PA news agency’s top positive news picks from across the year.

Woman samples a scone at every possible National Trust location

Sarah Merker, from Isleworth, west London, was the mastermind behind a blog called, where she documented a 10-year journey trying the treat at every National Trust location in England, Wales and Northern Ireland that can provide one.

Sarah Merker scone questSarah Merker completed a decade-long project to sample a scone at every possible National Trust location earlier this year (Sarah Merker/PA)PA Media - Sarah Merker

In March, she completed the feat with a 244th scone when she visited the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland – a place special to her and her husband Peter, who died from cancer in 2018.

Marking the end of the project at the Giant’s Causeway, Ms Merker said it was her way of finishing it with him.

Sarah Merker scone questSarah Merker’s husband Peter died in 2018 from cancer (Sarah Merker/PA)PA Media - Sarah Merker

“He’d been there for so much of it and obviously I have memories of doing it with him,” she told PA.

“So, for me, it was really important to finish it for him as well – I wanted to make sure I got to the end.”

Woman who will go completely blind creates ‘visual memory list’

Tiggi Trethowan, who lives in Somerset, wanted to create a “visual memory list” after being told by doctors she will eventually go completely blind, so she can visit places she has particularly loved or wants to travel to.

Her black Labrador Jackie, who she described as her “absolute life” has accompanied her on some trips, which includes Patagonia, Chile and Antarctica.

Woman\u2019s mission to complete visual memory listTiggi Trethowan with her guide dog black Labrador Jackie (Tiggi Trethowan/PA)PA Media - Tiggi Trethowan

She even took on Go Ape Bracknell’s Treetop Challenge, with the help of Mark “Billy” Billingham, from Channel 4’s SAS: Who Dares Wins.

She told PA in March: “We did the really big zip line together and I turned to him and said ‘have I broken you’ and he said ‘finally, you have broken me’.”

Young football fan gets into World Cup fever by making scrunchies

After getting a sewing machine for Christmas last year, Leah Walton decided to make and sell World Cup-themed homemade scrunchies and keyrings to raise money for a young boy called Jude Mellon-Jameson – who was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma, a rare and aggressive childhood cancer.

Leah Walton fundraising campaignLeah Walton with England player Lucy Bronze (Craig Walton/PA)PA Media - Craig Walton

In July the then 10-year-old’s fundraising efforts caught the attention of Lionesses Lucy Bronze and Ellie Roebuck, who met and gave the youngster signed shirts, boots and a ball to keep and auction off.

Leah, who lives in Sheffield, told PA that her football hero – Bronze – was “really, really kind” and added that Roebuck gave her a shirt she could keep, which is “up in my bedroom on my wall”.

Cobbler finds ‘Cinderella’ who abandoned broken sandals outside his shop

In August, Peter Corke, the owner of The Market Cobbler in Lancaster, helped to bring the classic fairytale Cinderella to life.

He discovered a pair of tan wedges on the doorstep of his shop, left there in the early hours of a Saturday morning, mended them and after a social media appeal and widespread news coverage “Cinderella got her shoes back”.

Repaired shoesPeter Corke was part of a fairytale moment earlier in the year (Peter Corke/PA)PA Media - Peter Corke

Recalling the moment the young woman came to collect them, he told PA: “It was quite busy, with customers in and out.

“Normally, when someone comes in to collect their shoes I remember who they are.

“I couldn’t remember who she was, but she said, ‘I’ve come for the shoes.’”

Three Scottish fathers don quilts for charity

Glasgow-based friends Graham Stewart, a commercial programme manager, Kenny Sinclair, a media contractor, and Ronnie Black, a head of learning disability services, took part in a comedy show at Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August for charity, only wearing quilts.

They came up with the idea to perform the stand-up show wearing only quilts after seeing Mr Sinclair’s son in the Scottish ‘Men In Kilts’ calendar, which features photos of topless young muscular men.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival(left to right) Graham Stewart, Kenny Sinclair and Ronnie Black (Ewan Pringle/PA)PA Media - Ewan Pringle

The trio also created a calendar titled Men In Quilts, parodying Men In Kilts, and then added the fashion choice to their show to “stand out a bit more”.

“For some reason, they didn’t want us, so rather than taking it lying down, we decided to produce our very own calendar and Graham came up with the genius idea to call it Men In Quilts,” Mr Sinclair told PA.

“As opposed to hunky young Scottish guys all over Scotland, it’s middle-aged plump guys all over Scotland, modelling in their duvets.”

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