David Ball lived in the small country village of Mornington-By-Mere in the Finchbottom Vale nestled between the Ancient Dancingdean Forest and the rolling Pepperstock Hills.
It was a quaint picturesque village, a proper chocolate box picturesque idyll, with a Manor House, 12th Century Church, a Coaching Inn, Windmills, an Old Forge, a Schoolhouse, a River and a Mere.
He lived and worked up at Mornington Field which had once been an RAF base but had been converted into a mixture of commercial and residential units.
David lived in apartment 7 of Lancaster House, which was converted into flats from the old Officers Mess.
He lived alone, and had done since he left home at the age of 18 and he had got to his mid 30’s and had needed no other company than his dog, or a dog, as there had been several incarnations of Kelvin.
He was employed by Light of Day, who were Led Lighting Specialists, and he was well regarded in the business but he became wider regarded after the events of his first Christmas in Mornington.
It was a week before Christmas when David was woken by Kelvin, his West of Argyle Terrier, it was 4 am and Kelvin clearly needed to go out despite the fact the wind was howling.
So reluctantly he got dressed and bundled up and they started out but when they got to the foot of the stairwell, Kelvin started to bark.
“Quiet you stupid creature” David said but Kelvin persisted his outburst until David opened the door and then he just became agitated and started pulling on the lead, but not along the path like he normally did, this time he turned immediately left to a slumped figure huddled in the corner of the porch, on closer examination Dave saw that it was a woman.
He tutted because his first reaction was that she was drunk, not something he had much tolerance with.
He took a penlight torch from his pocket and shone it in the woman’s face which was when he saw who it was, she was a woman from that building, Selina Tilley.
It was at that moment when he became more concerned because all though he didn’t know her well he did know one thing about her and that was that she was a Methodist and she didn’t drink, so he thought it was more likely to be hypothermia.
It looked like her lips were blue and when he touched her cheek it felt icy cold, then he checked her pulse which was weak, but it was present.
He let Kelvin off his lead while he got Selina to her feet and manhandled her inside the foyer to get her out of the bitter wind.
He lay her on the carpeted floor and draped his coat over her and then used his mobile phone to call for an ambulance.
Kelvin had done his business so David let him and he sat and held Selina’s hand while he waited for the ambulance and Kelvin cuddled up to the other side of Selina.
The ambulance was mercifully quick and came roaring up to Lancaster House with flashing lights and David told them what he knew, which was hardly enough, in fact it was very little, but the paramedics went quickly about their work.
They laid her on the trolley and started to check vital signs and then off they went to the hospital, with his name and number.
He called the Winston Churchill Hospital several times but he was told “Family only” every time he called.
So he tried a different tack. There were several nurses in the village, Rosie Parsons, Lorraine Chapman and Jane Hall to name but three and Jane was not only a friend his but was also a Staff Nurse at the Winston Churchill so he asked her if she could find out how the patient was and she agreed.
He was right about it not being alcohol related and he was also correct about her having hypothermia but it turned out that her underlying condition was diabetes which on that night had led to Hypoglycaemia.
Thankfully there would be no lasting effects but they were going to keep her in for a couple of days.
News of the events of that night quickly went around the village and David’s street cred went through the roof and he and Kelvin gained celebrity status.
Kelvin loved all the extra attention but David was less comfortable with it, and his thoughts kept straying to his stricken damsel in distress.
Selina Tilley was 27 years old and had worked for Crazy Chocolatiers since she left school, in fact she was the very first employee.
She also lived in the old Officers Mess, Lancaster House, in apartment 11 where she lived alone.
Selina hadn’t always done so, but she had been for a number of years and had become accustomed to it, but Christmas was fast approaching which was one of those times that she felt her solitude most keenly.
But as she lay in her hospital bed at the Royal Downshire it wasn’t Christmas that was occupying her mind.
She was patently aware that had it not been for David Ball and his little dog that she would have died and she really needed to do something to say thank you in some way but wasn’t sure what or how, she would of course say thank you, but it didn’t solve the essential problem of how to show her gratitude.
Alexandra Quarit was the founder and owner of Crazy Chocolatier’s who were the makers and purveyors of handmade chocolates and to many they made the best handmade chocolates in Downshire.
She began with a shop in the Abbottsford’s Phoenix Centre but she now had shops all over Downshire as well as several factory’s including the one at Mornington Field where Selina worked.
Alexandra was a good boss and everyone that worked for her, liked her, because she cared about the people she employed which was why she insisted on picking Selina up from the hospital two days before Christmas Eve.
As they drove towards Mornington Alexandra said
“I don’t want you back to work until the New Year”
“But I’m fully recovered” Selina said “thanks to David Ball, he saved my life”
“Which is why I don’t want you to come back to work too soon”
“You had a lucky escape”
“Yes I did” she agreed “And I am very grateful for everything David did, and I want to get him a thank you gift”
“I’m sure he would appreciate that” Alex concurred
“But what?” Selina asked “What do you get for someone who saves your life?”
“I think Chocolates make a nice gift” Alex said and smiled
“You would say that” Selina retorted with a smile, “But it’s a bit of a cop out”
“Not if you make them yourself” Alex said and after a moment added “Hand made by you”
“I thought I was on enforced leave” Selina pointed out
“You can do it at home, think of it as occupational therapy”
“I don’t have enough stuff” she replied
“It’s just as well I had Andrea stock you up then” Alexandra said cockily
“What are you up to?” Selina asked suspiciously
“I don’t know what you mean” she said innocently although she knew very well.
Alex had been encouraged by the fact that Selina spoke a lot about David Hall, not entirely unsurprising given that he had saved her life, but more noteworthy bearing in mind that she had been unconscious throughout the incident.
So she clearly had an interest in him prior to his intervention and because of that Alex was going to fan the flames, because her friend deserved someone in her life.
Selina made a selection of her finest handmade creations and made up a beautiful gift box, she also ordered a small pet hamper from Hanratty’s Department Store in Abbottsford’s Phoenix Centre for Kelvin and then on Christmas Eve she went downstairs and knocked on David Hall’s door.
He was sitting watching Alastair Sim in “Scrooge” when Kelvin heard Selina approach and he was on his feet, ears pricked, tail wagging long before David heard the knock on the door.
He tutted because “Scrooge” was one of his favourite Christmas movies but he got up and walked to the door and looked through the peephole and saw it was Selina and his heart rate quickened, he had heard she was home and he had thought about going to see if she was ok, he had even bought her a Christmas present, but he lost his nerve because he didn’t know what to say to her.
But now she was knocking on his door and there was no escape, unless of course he pretended not to be in, but he would have regretted that because he wanted to see her, but he still didn’t know what to say.
So he took a deep breath and opened the door.
“Hello” he said “it’s nice to see you fully recovered”
“Hello David and hello Kelvin” she said “I am much better thanks to you two”
“Come in” he said side stepping her comment
Once inside she sat on the sofa and made a fuss of Kelvin and when David had taken his seat
“I cannot express how grateful I am” she began
“Nonsense” he retorted “it was Kelvin who found you”
“Well I am very grateful to both of you” she said and rummaged in her bag “so I have these gifts as a token of my gratitude”
“Oh” he said “you didn’t have to do that”
“It was the least I could do” she said
“It really wasn’t necessary” he insisted
“If you prefer you can consider them Christmas presents” Salina said and put them under the tree
“That’s very kind, thank you” David said
“We have a present under the tree for you too, don’t we Kelvin” he said
“Really? How nice” Selina said taken aback and that was when David gathered up all his courage and said
“Come for lunch tomorrow and we can open them together”
“Oh yes what a lovely idea, thank you” Selina said happily
So they spent Christmas Day together, which was to be the first of many.
It turned out that when David and Kelvin saved Selina’s life that dark December morning he saved her life in more ways than one and saved his own in the process.