Happily Ever After -- Part One
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Monday, February 08, 2016
By Lee Ann Bannerman
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Where does travel take us? The answer differs for everyone. In the case of Lee Ann Bannerman, stepping on an airplane meant leaping into the arms of the love of her life. Getting there... Well, the journey wasn't easy. Today, see how this love story got started.

Photo by Bekah Wright


I grew up in Richmond, Virginia and followed the path a lot of readers will identify with.  I graduated high school, went off to college, fell in love, graduated, got married and spent the next 14 years working and living in North Carolina with my husband.  Sadly, my marriage fell apart; I found myself divorced and on my own.  Thankfully I lived near most of my immediate family who were a huge support and helped me in endless ways. 


Not long after I left my husband I met someone who taught me how to fall in love again, helped me believe in myself again which was huge, reminded me of all the things I loved to do but had stopped doing (and did them with me) and who was easy to be with.  I was happy and having fun again for the first time in a very long time.  And when I least expected it, a job opportunity came my way which meant relocating to a new town about two hours away.  It was a tough decision but the time seemed right and the job a good fit so I moved to Davidson, North Carolina in the summer of 2001. 

Photo courtesy of Lee Ann Bannerman

From 2001 to 2004 I worked for Davidson College (DC), a small liberal arts university 20 miles North of Charlotte.  While DC is small in terms of student body, it has always had a reputation as being big in ambition and achievement.  Often compared with Ivy League schools, its facilities, campus and program are ranked among the highest in the country year after year.

When I was there the then President, Bobby Vagt, insisted that Davidson should not only excel in academia but should strive to exceed student’s expectations at every turn. This included student life, which was my area.  President Vagt often said he did not want students at Davidson to regret choosing a small school in rural NC over a big city school elsewhere and challenged the student life team to deliver big events, big concerts and big ideas, often with a big budget to back it up.


Image from Royal Shakespeare Company's LinkedIn page

One of those big budget items was inviting the world renowned Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) from Stratford – upon–Avon in England to officially open our newly built Duke Family Performance Hall.  The theatre, a 600-seat proscenium hall, was constructed as part of a massive renovation project which transformed a former basketball stadium and athletic center into a new student union. If Davidson was going to build a new theatre with all the bell and whistles, it was only right to open it with the world’s best theatre company.  And so it was!

As Assistant Director for Programmes of the new student union, my responsibilities included programming the theatre and looking after the building and the artists who performed there.  When the RSC arrived, we threw a big party to welcome them to campus.  Students, staff and faculty were invited to spend the evening getting to know the company. As the band played and the drinks flowed, I think everyone knew the visit and residency was going to be special. I had no idea just how special but in the end it was life-changing.

Photo courtesy of Lee Ann Bannerman


At the opening party, once everything was under way and I sighed a sigh of relief I relaxed into conversation with a number of members of the cast and crew.  Before I knew it I had pretty much whiled away the entire evening stood next to the same person ... a Mr. Jasper Gilbert, Head of Production and International Touring. 

As the days and weeks went on, Jasper and I spent more and more time together working side by side on every show and spending time outside of work.  I happily showed him around Davidson, introduced him to my favorite stomping grounds and learned all about England and life on the road with the RSC.  It sounds silly but we became best friends in a matter of days and made a connection neither of us were expecting much less looking for. 


Photo courtesy of Lee Ann Bannerman


After two and half weeks of absolute bliss I drove Jasper to the Charlotte airport, said a tearful and overwhelmingly hard goodbye and thought, “Right, well, there goes the person of my dreams.  Shame I’ll never see him again.” 

I was heartbroken... 

Tune in tomorrow for Part Two of Lee Ann's Happily Ever After.


Leave a comment:
Sherie Kathleen Smith - I am in suspense! I love the story so far, great way to get your blog following!
Juan - Love usually happen when you expect ti the least. I can attest to that
Karen Langston - It is always when we are not looking that the right person comes into our lives. II believe that when we are happy and love ourselves that we attract the perfect mate. Can't wait for the next blog