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Just before Christmas 1997, Carol was very excited to meet her email penfriend, Joanne Gilbert, from Australia. They had been exchanging emails since Joanne visited the All Saints' Church website and our homepage, in search of information about Leamington Spa where she lived as a child. Over the Internet they became good friends, discovering that they share Christian faith, a love of computers, and a quirky sense of humour. They sent each other jokes, photographs, chatted on AIM and ICQ, and got to know each other really well.

Joanne spent the last three months of 1997 touring America, Canada, and the UK, and one December afternoon she drove over from Cheltenham where she was spending Christmas with her Mother, and exchanged a lot of gossip with Carol over a cuppa in the Rhema Coffee Shop at All Saints'. The friendship forged on the Internet became a real-life one. Joanne met several of the All Saints' Coffee Shop staff and regulars, and established friendships with some of them too, especially with one who visits Australia regularly and stays, they discovered, within a few miles of Joanne's home. On his next trip he called her, hoping to see her, but unfortunately she was away from home.

After her return to Australia, Joanne discovered that her cancer was no longer in remission. There followed months of chemotherapy, and other treatment, and she was often in considerable pain, but her cheerfulness never deserted her. Her emails continued to be full of hope and fun, mocking her own frailty even, and what she called her 'chemo brain' when the therapy made it hard for her to concentrate.

She managed one more trip to England in March 1999, but it proved impossible for her and Carol to meet again. She returned to Australia, and died in hospital there on May 6th, 1999.

 

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