Photo gallery: Twist of fate sees artist reunited with his subjects - after he submits painting of them to their Hethersett craft shop 24 years later

Rebecca Appleton, left, and her sister, Fiona Dye, with artist James J Allen who painted them on hor

Rebecca Appleton, left, and her sister, Fiona Dye, with artist James J Allen who painted them on horseback in 1990, when Rebecca was 10, and Fiona 7. It was by chance that they found the painting on a card he had submitted to their mother's shop, Hodge Podge, in Hethersett. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2014

A bizarre twist of fate has seen two Hethersett sisters meet the artist who painted them 24 years earlier.

James Allen first saw Rebecca Appleton and her sister Fiona Dye at the Aylsham Show in 1990, when they were just 10 and 7, respectively.

The girls were on horseback in tutus as part of the show's popular fancy dress competition when the Norfolk-based artist snapped a shot of them.

He went away to paint the portrait and, over the years, attempted to track down the girls, putting adverts in the Eastern Daily Press and on local radio stations.

But despite his efforts, it was only last month that a coincidence saw him reunited with the girls at their mother's craft shop, Hodge Podge in Hethersett.

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Mrs Appleton, now 35, said: 'We had gone to see a new client, a framers, and he introduced as to an artist, James. James gave us a box of his cards to take away and look at. I just picked one of the cards out at random and said how much it looked like us.

'My sister asked if the card was called the Aylsham Show - and we turned over on the back and saw it was. When I got home I tracked down the original photo and left it in the shop for mum to ask him about.'

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At their next meeting all was revealed - and the girls discovered Mr Allen, of Rockland All Saints, had also painted a picture of their brother Phillip on the same day.

Mrs Appleton said: 'It's so weird - our gramps had taken us to the show and, unfortunately, he passed away a couple of years ago but he would have thought it was brilliant.'

Mr Allen said: 'I had tried to look for them but it was only 24 years later that I actually met them. It was all very strange.'

Do you have a Hethersett story for us? Contact reporter Laruen Cope on

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