Nottingham strangers discover parallel lives during chance encounter in Australia

Guests come and go from Richard Gardner’s B&B out in Queensland, Australia all the time, as they check in for a reclusive getaway, enjoy food prepared by a chef that has cooked all around the world, and leave feeling refreshed.

But one guest, who booked in with his wife and son for a week to celebrate his 50th birthday on Saturday (January 15), developed a rather special bond with the host after finding out their lives started so similarly in Nottinghamshire.

Richard runs The Village B&B in Mudgeeraba, Queensland with wife Liz van’Boxel, 52.

Dean Bradshaw, 50, originally from Arnold who now lives in Melbourne, checked in on Thursday (January 13) and noticed a personalised number plate on Richard’s car, which reads in part ‘NFFC’, standing for Nottingham Forest Football Club.

A Forest fan himself, Dean asked Richard, 52, if the number plate was indeed reference to the Reds, which he said it was.

And after talking some more, on the other side of the world to where they grew up, they found out they both attended Arnold Hill (now known as Arnold Hill Spencer Academy), both lived just off Ramsey Drive in Arnold, and both worked at The Royal Hotel, which is now known as the Crowne Plaza.

Speaking to Nottinghamshire Live, Dean said: “It’s madness, we’ve each got this whole back story of the same kind of life.

“It’s so funny, it’s really made the holiday for me reminiscing about memories as kids, it’s made it so memorable.

“I’ve been telling friends and family and they’ve been in utter disbelief, it really is insane.”

Dean and Richard have both said they will be keeping in touch with each other going forward.

Dean moved out to Australia with wife Rebecca, 50, in 2001, and they have settled in Melbourne, and have a son together, 11-year-old Jacob.

Dean now works as a disability support worker, and Rebecca runs her own consultancy business after working as a nurse.

Dean with his wife Rebecca and son Jacob on his 50th birthday
Dean with his wife Rebecca and son Jacob on his 50th birthday
(Image: Dean Bradshaw)

He said: “We met while we were working at Huws Nursing Home just off Derby Road, and we decided to sell everything and come to Australia.

“I didn’t want to continue working as a chef when we got here, and have done what I do now since.”

Dean’s sister, who still lives in the Arnold area, was in the same year as Richard, and they both remember names that cropped up they said they hadn’t remembered in years.

Richard, originally from Hull but moved to Arnold when he was young, trained as a chef at The Royal, and went on to work at The Savoy in Nottingham.

He’d originally planned to join the army, but his dad persuaded him to get a trade behind him, which led him to train to become a chef.

And Richard never joined the army, instead working as a chef which then took him around the world, including on the Greek islands and in America, before moving to Australia, where he now runs The Village B&B with Liz.

Richard said: “I have to say, he (Dean) remembers more than I can, I even think our report cards were the same, as I didn’t really pay enough attention at school!

“It’s been really good to have a catch-up and to find out more.

“I love it here, here is home for me now, I’ve been here now for 20 years and I was not expecting to bump into someone from school, it’s crazy really.”

Liz and Richard
Liz and Richard
(Image: The Village B&B)

Richard and Liz have run the B&B for six years, after buying and converting the former two-bedroom property, and have had to adapt recently because of the pandemic.

The couple started to serve food, including English high tea, after Liz ran a travel business, but that’s gone on the backburner because of Covid.

Liz said: “It was interesting at first as we had not worked together, and we had to find a plan B because of Covid, and Richard went straight into Gordon Ramsay mode.

“I said to him I’m not your apprentice, but we’re alright now after it was hard in the beginning.”

The Village B&B Richard runs with wife Liz
The Village B&B Richard runs with wife Liz
(Image: The Village B&B)

The couple have said if a good offer came in for the business, they would sell and travel together again.

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Nottinghamshire Live – Local News