COMMUNITY | Love blossomed in lockdown for brain tumour survivor and NHS key worker

“I never thought I would find someone I would get on so well with. Now we’re madly in love”

A couple who matched on Tinder in March, just before the country went into lockdown, have found love together.

Seven months after their initial ‘encounter’ brain tumour survivor Ben Lindon and NHS key worker Sarah Jennings, who were only able to meet in person for the first time in July, are “besotted with each other”, although being careful not to put themselves at risk because of the pandemic.

Sarah, 40, from Leominster and Ben, 41, from Ledbury both swiped right when they saw each other’s profiles.

The coronavirus pandemic meant that for the first three months of their relationship, Ben, who was diagnosed with an inoperable oligodendroglioma<https://www.braintumourresearch.org/info-support/types-of-brain-tumour/oligodendroglioma> brain tumour more than 10 years ago, and Sarah, a soft facilities assistant at Leominster Community Hospital, were only able to get to know each other through texts and phone and video calls.

Father-of-two Ben, a former journalist and tree surgeon, is a dedicated fundraiser and ambassador for the charity Brain Tumour Research<http://www.braintumourresearch.org>, having run the London Marathon, cycled from John O’Groats to Land’s End and kayaked 100k to mark his 100th cycle of chemo, among other astonishing challenges. He said: “I had been planning a nice romantic meal at the Feathers Hotel in Ledbury when suddenly we found ourselves in Covid-19 lockdown and unable to go ahead with our first date.

“By the time lockdown was eased, we had got to know each other really well, even though we still hadn’t met. We decided the best place to get together for the first time was at mine. I hadn’t hidden anything from her, but obviously I was worried about what Sarah might think actually meeting me because I am currently reliant on a wheelchair to get around, following a massive seizure and deterioration in my condition a couple of years ago.

“We are besotted with each other. Sarah is very special and I feel so lucky to have her in my life. I have always been a determined sort of guy, always up for the next challenge, and Sarah has made me even more determined than ever to get back my mobility and crack on with my next fundraising challenge for Brain Tumour Research.

“I never expected to find anyone like Sarah – so selfless and so perfectly lovely. I can’t believe I’ve found someone I fall in love with more and more each day.”

Sarah, mum of four children ranging in age from 18 down to three, said: “I was so nervous going over to meet Ben for the first time, worrying he might not like me, but he was so lovely. We had already clicked virtually and I couldn’t wait to meet him, but getting together properly was even better than I could ever have imagined. He makes me laugh all the time. He is so inspiring and so determined to get on with life and his rehabilitation – he doesn’t let anything stand in his way.

“The hospital where I work is getting busier again and I am really worried that we could go into lockdown all over again, meaning Ben and I won’t be able to continue getting together. For now, we are seeing each other as much as we can, while being careful not to go out too much because of the pandemic. We tend to stay in together or go to the park with the kids, although occasionally we brave it and go for a nice coffee.

“I never thought, after going through a recent divorce, that I would find someone I get on so well with. Now we’re madly in love.

“After the breakdown of my marriage, it’s so amazing to have Ben and know that everything has come good in the end.”

Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40, yet historically just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.

Melanie Tiley, community development manager for Brain Tumour Research, said: “Ben is an incredible fundraiser and ambassador for the charity.  We wish him and Sarah all the very best – it’s wonderful to hear some good news for a change!

“And if their love story has inspired you, please add your signature to our petition to increase the national investment into brain tumour research to £35 million a year.”

Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the Government and the larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure. The charity is calling for a national annual spend of £35 million in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia and is also campaigning for greater repurposing of drugs.

To sign the petition go to www.braintumourresearch.org/campaigning/brain-tumour-research-petition<http://www.braintumourresearch.org/campaigning/brain-tumour-research-petition