Old dancing partner tale stirs nation

Sanjeen Payne-Kumar

Sanjeen Payne-Kumar

First published in News

Good Samaritan Sanjeen Payne-Kumar touched the nation’s hearts after a story of his compassion for a woman with dementia featured on Radio Two’s Simon Mayo Drivetime show.

The 48-year-old wrote into the Confessions feature several months ago, after someone close was diagnosed with dementia.

But his story took place 30 years ago, when he was a Hull University student and volunteered at a hospice.

He served tea to residents and one day a woman, Jill, approached him and said, ‘It’s you. You came back. You promised you’d come back’ and asked him to dance.

Mr Payne-Kumar, now of Wedhampton, took classes after Jill said, ‘You have forgotten how to waltz properly,’ and danced with her every week until he returned home for Christmas.

Jill died that Christmas, but her daughter wrote to Mr Payne-Kumar, now a trustee of Pewsey charity Afrikaya, to tell him that during the First World War her mother was a nurse in London and attended tea dances where she met an Indian soldier.

The couple fell in love and when the soldier was posted to the front line he promised to return, but never did.

Mr Payne-Kumar said: “I didn’t think they would use it. Usually people ask for forgiveness and I was asking for a blessing.”

The story aired last week, as author Michael Morpurgo was on the show to talk about his First World War stories.

Mr Payne-Kumar said: “I had Michael Morpurgo praising my writing and then two authors on Twitter talked about making the story into a film, so I just had to go outside and do some gardening to bring me back down to earth.”

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