Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

Professor David Spiegelhalter of Cambridge University wants to know about your coincidences!

Why? By recording your coincidence stories here, you can help him build a picture of what kinds of coincidences are out there and which ones seem to ‘get to’ us the most. Your coincidence stories can also help him explore the scientific explanations which may account for them – whether by doing the maths to calculate the chances of a coincidence, or speculating on the weird and wonderful workings of our brains.

Coincidences tend to be ‘surprising matches’ – sometimes they are lucky, sometimes unlucky, sometimes just mind-boggling. To help you recall the coincidences that have happened in your life, here’s a list of some common types of coincidence:

  • Surprising repetitions: for instance when you’ve had not contact with someone for ages, then find two connections to them very close together in time. Or when over several years multiple members of the same family are born with the same birthday. Or even a repetition of a really rare event – like winning the lottery twice, or your life being saved twice by the same person!
  • Simultaneous events: for example when two people phone each other at exactly the same time.
  • Parallel lives: such as when two people in a small group find they share a birthday or an unusual name, or when two people discover their lives match each other in bizarre details.
  • Uncanny patterns: imagine picking letters in Scrabble that spell your name.
  • Unlikely chains of events: perhaps you lost your false teeth overboard and found them inside a fish you caught twenty years later?

If anything coincidental has happened to you - anything that made you stop and say "well, what were the chances of that..?" - then please record your story in the form below! Please try to keep your story personal - about you or someone you know. The only thing we'd ask you to steer clear of are premonitions or déjà vu, purely because - whilst fascinating - they're quite common and also difficult to analyse.

You could also tell us about coincidences in the news, but please provide a link to a reliable source!

Title: two or three words that give a simple description of your story, eg ‘old friend’ or ‘birthday coincidence’
Coincidence: tell your coincidence story - and please include plenty of relevant detail (places, dates, numbers etc.) and include your first name if you want.
Email address (optional): please leave an email address, as then we can get in touch to find out more!

All of the information entered below except your email address will be published on this website when you press save

By ticking this box you agree that your email address can be forwarded to Wingspan Productions Ltd, who are making a BBC television programme about Chance and would like to feature Professor David Spiegelhalter's coincidence collection. In doing so you agree that the producers of the programme may contact you directly to ask you more about your story, though whether you decide to help them is entirely up to you. Your details will not be forwarded to any other party or used for marketing purposes.

Vertical Tabs


I had been lying in the lock-up ward of a large psychiatric hospital for some five months suffering from severe depression. One day I roused myself enough to think, "What are you doing lying there? Do you think angels are going to come and scoop you up in their wings and carry you over the high walls to freedom? If you want to get out of here you better do something about it yourself." I sat up. There on the ward floor was a discarded copy of the Sunday Express. I picked it up and flipped through it. My eye was caught by an article about a man sailing single-handed around the world.

A loaf of bread

We were living on a boat in Singapore. We had been cruising in the Far East for five years. Fed up with pirates and immigration we decided to return to Europe? But where? Not cold-clouded England after our years in the tropics. I went shopping and bought a stick of bread. It had a scrap of torn newspaper wrapped around it to hold it by. Back on board, I looked at the paper. It was an advertisement for an Estate Agency in Andorra in the Pyrenees, advertising an exhibition and sales promotion in a Singapore hotel. I went and collected brochures.

Ypres Remembrance Day

A group of us from Andorra had been invited by the Anglican vicar of St Georges, Ypres to attend the November 11th Memorial service. On the day, we were told to follow him closely in the Remembrance parade. This was made easy by his flowing, poppy-red robes. As we approached the Menin Gate I saw no way we could get through the crowds. I decided to peal off to the left and try my luck there. Eventually I was brought to a standstill beside a suited, straight-backed gentleman with a tightly rolled umbrella. I glanced at him. He was wearing my father's Regimental tie.

Colombo airport

Our flight to Nepal had been delayed by two hours. There was a Caucasian man standing around looking as bored as I felt. Maybe he spoke English. He did. He asked me what I was doing in Sri Lanka. "Living on a boat," I replied. "That's interesting. One of my employees in New Zealand has just sailed around the world on a boat." "What's his name?" "Terry Banks" "Rally! His children are my guardian children." It was Christmas time so I bought them presents from a souvenir shop and the man promised to deliver them when he got home.

Similar unusual phrase from two sources

I was watching a music education video on Youtube when the phrase "this is music theory; not music fact" appeared on the screen. At that precise time, I received a message notification from a friend living and working over 2000km away stating "these aren't some theory, these are facts".

Harrow Weald

3 big Coincidences [1] when I started work at a stable in Harrow Weald in 1963, 5 miles from my home there was a person, male my age, name Nick . And when I went to visit my cousin in Hatchend [ 5 miles from my home ] I met her husband to be and he was the brother of the same Nick . We had met brothers coincidentally. We married IE cousins married brothers all by coincidence . [2] also at the stables there was a girl Anne who had been at school with me age 5 .

Name coincidence

My mother, who was called Primrose Broomhead, died recently. For her funeral I decided I would wear a black dress but because she loved flowers and her name was Primrose I thought I would like to wear a scarf with primroses on it. I googled scarf and primroses and then looked at the links. One of them seemed to fit the bill and I looked on the website of the person who was selling the scarf. When I looked at the contact details imagine the shock I had when my maiden name jumped out at me, Valerie Broomhead.

Family connection

In 1973 I travelled with my parents to Waldau in the Black Forest to try to find information about the Fehrenbach family from whom my father descended. We found living, my father's 3rd cousin Eduard Spiegelhalter & his wife Berta, who helped us draw up a rough family tree, & told us that the family business in London had been at 81, Mile End Road, East London. Some months later I decided to start collecting old postcards, & went to a huge postcard fair. There were hundreds of dealers & millions of cards, & I chose just one, for the picture.

Strange route to an old acquaintance

This all happened on the same day, 29th November, 2017. </p> <p> I saw, by chance, a reference to a long, long defunct American magazine called 80-US. I remembered being an avid reader, and also having had an article published in it, so I searched on it and found that it was not only well referenced on the web, but some copies were downloadable in a multitude of formats and they included the edition with my article in it. It was the February, 1983 edition. </p> <p>Later that morning a friend called me and I told him about it.

People I Have Worked With

I worked with someone for 10 years and discovered a number of curious similarities. Our mothers share the same name - Sylvia. His father was an amputee, as was mine. His birthday was the same as my husband. We had just one child each, both girls with names beginning with 'C'. Finally, we were both working/living in New York during 1976 although we never met while there. Also, while in New York in 1976, and in the course of my work, I had contact with a travel agent who, noting my accent, mentioned he had a relative who was currently living in the UK - in Surrey did I know it?