Lancashire man encounters mysterious painter in Swiss Alps who asks to be remembered to the Leyland sweetheart who broke his heart 30 years ago

They say true love lasts forever and distance makes the heart grow fonder - well this is certainly the case for two teenage sweethearts from Leyland.

Wednesday, 17th July 2019, 11:23 am
Updated Wednesday, 17th July 2019, 12:23 pm
Mysterious painter Matthew Fletcher left Leyland for the Swiss Alps after being spurned by his true love 30 years ago Pic: David Huddleston

This is the bittersweet story of a pair of Lancashire sweethearts and how a spurned lover fled to the European mountains to mend a broken heart...

High up in the Swiss Alps there is a mysterious painter still pining for the Leyland girl who broke his heart 30 years ago.

David Huddleston, 67, from Farington, near Leyland, told the Post how he encountered the heartbroken painter after embarking on a dream trip to the Swiss Alps.

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David Huddlestone and his wife encountered the mysterious painter in the mountain resort town of Zermatt, high up in the Swiss Alps Pic: David Huddlestone

David had climbed 10,000ft above the resort town of Zermatt, when he stopped for a rest beneath the iconic, pyramid-shaped peak of the Matterhorn.

The last person he expected to meet in the remote mountain range was a fellow Leylander.

But thousands of feet up in the snowy abyss, David caught the familiar sound of his home town tongue whispering through the wind.

At the foot of the mighty Matterhorn, David discovered a friendly painter selling prints of his watercolour paintings.

""Hello" the friendly painter said, "where are you from then?"

"The UK came my reply. And you?", David asked.

"I was born in Yorkshire, but lived for a long time in Lancashire", said the painter.

After engaging in a bit of friendly Lancashire/Yorkshire banter, the painter revealed how he came to be living 1,000 miles away from his adopted hometown of Leyland.

"Do you know Preston?", said the painter.

"That’s where I’m from", David answered.

"Well, I lived close to Preston, in a town called Leyland", continued the painter.

"That’s exactly where I’m from!” responded David.

"Well, actually, to tell you the truth, I lived in a place called Farington”.

"Can you believe it, that’s where I live!", chuckled David.

After this friendly exchange, David and the painter began reminiscing about the 'old days' in Leyland.

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David became curious as to how a Leyland lad ended up selling paintings in the remote wilderness of Europe's largest mountain range.

He asked the man, "what's your story then?"

And so the painter told David his story. A bittersweet story of two young Leyland sweethearts.

"His story unfolded that he was in a romance with a girl who lived near Wheelton Lane", said David.

"He had been studying art at Runshaw College and had dreamed of becoming a painter.

"But one day, his sweetheart spurned him and his heart was broken.

"He left Leyland and moved to Zermatt in Switzerland, where he has lived alone for the past 28 years, dedicated to his art.

"But he said he still thinks fondly of those young, heady days in Lancashire."

"His name I hear you asking?", David teased.

"Well, if you are that long lost love of Matthew Fletcher, he asked me to tell you this.

"Matthew still thinks of you every day."

Speaking to the Post, David said: "It was so strange how a chance meeting and conversation unfolded high up in the Alps.

"It all started with my quip about him being from Yorkshire and I from Lancashire.

"It was only the mention of Lancashire that began his tale of lost love.

"That poor guy must have been hurt more than words can say as he is still telling the tale to strangers 28 years later."

The time came for David to continue his ascent to the peak of the Matterhorn, and the two men shook hands and bid each other a friendly farewell.

David said: "He was obviously moved by the memories of his sweetheart and he is still pining for her after all these years.

"So I offered him some comfort. I told him, "The Matterhorn will never leave you my friend”.

"The mountain is now his life and he is a very talented artist. He seemed happy selling his prints to people passing on the mountainside.

"But he's never forgotten that one girl from Leyland."