We were first introduced to Sarah Hartford in The Red Heart, when she met the train bringing Kathy Sullivan to Alice Springs. The two women became firm friends, and Sarah supported Kathy through the turbulence of her relationship with Alex, and of course in the aftermath of the accident.
We learnt to appreciate her as an empathetic friend, but one with an irreverent sense of humour. It wasn’t apparent the extent of the sadness she was also carrying.
In Trust Your Heart, we learned that in spite of the bubbly persona, there was a fragility underneath. Sarah was cautious about putting herself in a vulnerable position where Joel was concerned. Sensible woman. Over the course of the story, we saw the growth she experienced, realising she was in charge of her life and it was up to her to make the good things happen.
I’ve taken this opportunity to interview Sarah and get to know her in greater depth.
You were initially a city girl. What brought you to Alice Springs?
It was a mixture of the job and looking for a bit of adventure. I’d always wanted to explore this area of Australia, and of course to visit Uluru. I was getting bored in my last job, so when I saw this position advertised, I jumped at it. It was the right move.
It must have been devastating for you after Dave Bishop died. What kept you in the town?
This was where Dave was buried and where I felt close to him. Also, I had a strong support network in Alice Springs, and really enjoyed my job. It didn’t occur to me to leave.
You and Kathy Sullivan were very close. Have you ever been tempted to take up flying yourself?
Not really. Until I got this job in Alice, I didn’t have any connections with aviation, so as a career it didn’t really feature for me. When I was small, I thought I would be a trapeze artist, but had neither the aptitude or the figure for it. I fell into administration, and it’s worked out to be a good fit for me. I like organizing things.
We saw how you organised the teams for the Henley-on-Todd Regatta. Will you train a women’s team next year?
Now that’s a thought. I’d have to think up different strategies to get the best out of the women. It would be really cool to have both male and female winning teams.
Things were a bit rocky there between you and Joel for a while. Will this relationship last the distance?
I can’t definitely answer that question, but we’re on a much stronger footing now. There are no secrets between us, and I feel he has my back. He supports my flamenco dancing, so that must count for something!
Have you met his family yet?
I’ve met Sam obviously, as he stayed with Joel for a couple of weeks. I haven’t met his sister yet, but she has a visit planned for next month. I’m really looking forward to meeting her. I used to watch her on TV when she was competing, so seeing her in person will be a thrill. She’s one who could have been a trapeze artist!
Are there wedding bells in the future?
I haven’t asked him to marry me, so who knows. We’re enjoying this time of getting to know each other better. It’s certainly an option. Joel has a three-year contract with the radio station, after which he could be posted anywhere. That might be a precipitating factor for any long-term decisions.
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