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Sherie Holder-Olutayo


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There are some chance encounters that make a lasting impact on a person’s life and no one knows that better than Dorothy Ackroyd. 
Forty years ago, through a chance meeting in Paris, France, she met Carol Taylor who left an indelible imprint. Though they had obvious differences in race and life stories, they  shared a common love in teaching. Dorothy lives in Sheffield, Britain and Carol was a French teacher from Vauxhall, Christ Church, Barbados.
And as luck and Fate sometimes intervene, it did for Dorothy and Carol.
“As part of my training, I spent a year in France from 1971 to 1971 as an English assistant at the Sorbonne in Paris,” Dorothy recalled. “We took part in a one-week course before going to different parts of the country.”
Instantly there was a connection. For Carol who was a stranger to the customs and life in Paris, it was a great to have someone who could ease her initial fears and make her feel comfortable.
Dorothy did just that. During that week as they studied and worked together and saw the country, they bonded as if they had been friends for most of their lives.
Carol’s tales of life in Barbados left Dorothy somewhat envious, wanting to see the place described so vividly and lavishly. Carol had painted such a portrait through the descriptions she showered on Dorothy, that she wanted to know if they were truly accurate. Could one place hold such beauty and charm?
After that week ended, Dorothy resumed her life in Sheffield and Carol returned to Barbados. Though they communicated at intervals, the busyness of life soon altered any long-standing communication.
That is until recently. As a treat to celebrate her 60th birthday, Dorothy finally took that long awaited trip to Barbados. She also came armed with an address that she had for Carol, though deep down she wondered if during that lapse if that address was still valid.
When Dorothy arrived at the Hilton Barbados, she told personnel there that she wanted to make contact but didn’t know how or if it would even be possible.
“When Dorothy and I initially spoke she indicated that her interaction with Carol was one of the main reasons for her visiting Barbados,” said Jennifer Barrow, Hilton Barbados, director of business development. “She mentioned that she had an address for Carol but they had lost touch a long time ago. We thought it would be a kind gesture and great birthday gift to get them reunited. We made a few calls.”
To say that Carol was surprised was an understatement. She was just as eager as Dorothy to meet the woman who made her time in Paris  memorable.
“From the time I heard the news that Dorothy was here I was very eager to meet her again,” Carol said. “It was a very nice gesture from the hotel and I am glad we were able to make contact after so many years.”
Prior to the meeting they got the chance to catch up on the telephone.
“I was very excited to make contact with her and she asked over the phone if she would recognize me,” Dorothy said. “I said that I still had red hair although it’s much lighter and shorter so she would know me but I knew I’d recognize her by her wonderful smile.
Their face-to-face meeting was just as impactful. They greeted each other with hugs and smiles, spent the day catching up on the directions their lives took through the years, introduced family members to each other and spent a wonderful time reconnecting. After the reunion at the hotel, they went off to see the different attractions of the island.
Recounting the event on her 60th birthday as a moment she would treasure, Dorothy is eager to return to these shores once again. Naturally she credits Carol for the wonderful stories of her home that have been permanently etched in her psyche. And the descriptions, according to Dorothy, were more than accurate.