MATHS wizard Peter McCall looked at the long line of figures on the green cathode ray computer screen, state of the art back in 1981.
“The odds against that series of events are 52,591,291,830 to one,” he told the Mail’s incredulous reporter.
Depending on how you define a billion, that was either 52 and a half billion or 52,591 billion to one.
It all began in a small town in Germany, Cuxhaven, when young Heidi Baumann married an English serviceman.
Her husband, Hartlepool-born Alfred Cannell, brought his new bride back to the town, where their first child, also called Alfred, was born on May 7, 1954.
The coincidences began a year later when couple’s second child, daughter Deborah, was born – also on May 7.
Heidi told the Mail in 1981: “I suppose we were quite surprised at the time. It was a bit of a coincidence.”
Twelve years went by before the couple’s third child, Patrick, was born on, you guessed it, May 7.
“We were amazed,” said Heidi. “Fancy having three children who were all born on the same date.”
She told the Mail the worst problem was buying birthday presents and gave a sigh of relief when daughter Deborah presented her with a grandchild in 1980 on a different date – March 31.
But a year later history repeated itself when a second grandchild was also born on March 31.
Heidi told the Mail she was “absolutely flabbergasted” when son Alfred rang to tell her the news.
He was calling from Germany as, in a further twist to the tale, he had met his German wife while serving with the armed forces in Germany – just like his father.
The Mail contacted an local experts Elfton Limited to calculate the odds on such a series of events.
Company director Peter McCall told the Mail: “In order to give you some sort of perspective, the figure is the number of times a clock has ticked since the birth of Jesus Christ.”
Was that the end of the coincidences?
Contact Andrew Levett by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or write to him at Hartlepool Mail, New Clarence House, Wesley Square, Hartlepool, TS24 8BX.