Gay Couple Receive Letter Before Wedding Saying They Should Take Their Ceremony 'Far Away'
Police are investigating after a gay couple about to marry were sent a homophobic letter from someone in their village - warning that their wedding reception should be held elsewhere.
Callum Hodge and Ashley Jenkins announced their engagement and received nothing but love and support from friends and family.
But little did they know that some people in Callum's home of Norton Malreward in Somerset - which has a population of just 246 - were plotting to ruin their special day.
Four months before the wedding reception, held at Callum's parents' private barn conversion, his mum Janie - a post lady - received a letter.
The letter said: "Callum should be ashamed of himself for putting his grandparents through this. He won't go to heaven.
"You need to lead him down a new path in life. The wedding should take place far, far away from the village. This is the consensus of the village."
Janie was devastated when the anonymous note dropped through her letterbox. She informed the police immediately but didn't tell a soul from the wedding party until after the wedding in July - which professional dog walker Callum says was everything he'd dreamed it would be.
The mum-of-four says she spent the lead-up to the big day worried that villagers were plotting a riot or protest that would spoil what was supposed to be the best day of her son's life.
Janie, 59, said: "I was absolutely gobsmacked and just devastated to read it. It was addressed to me and said it was the consensus of the village that if the wedding was going to happen then it should do so far, far away from the village.
"It said I should show Callum down a new path. I didn't want to speak to anyone or acknowledge anyone in the village because I thought everyone was out to get us."
She continued: "It is vile. It made me feel completely unwelcome in the village. The letter is so cruel and it made me very upset.
"I was so worried something would happen on the wedding day, like a protest or something. This person tried to ruin our day and it is so hateful."
Janie kept the letter to herself out of fear it would ruin the day for Callum if he found out about it before the ceremony. Instead, she broke the news to him a week after the 'wonderful' family day went ahead without a hitch.
He says felt angry and upset and has hit back at the 'pathetic lowlife' who sent the homophobic letter to his mum.
Callum, who lives with dressage rider Ashley, 27, in Evenlode, Gloucestershire, said: "I found it really upsetting. I lived in that village for 29 years. It is evil. We are free to do whatever we want on our private land. It's a homophobic attack.
"I feel pity for that person. Why do they feel as though they have a right to do that, to try to ruin our day? I was more angry at how it made my mum feel. She was made to feel completely unwelcome in the community. She felt like an outcast.
"To think that we probably have met that person makes me sad. They are pathetic and made up lies to attack us. But it didn't spoil anything. We had the most amazing day and the room was filled with so much love."
It is now being treated as a hate crime and a criminal investigation is still underway, but police are still unsure who is responsible for sending the letter.
Callum, who has been inundated with support from villagers in Norton Malreward, took to Facebook to vent his frustration at the letter, which had been typed on a computer.
Following this, people rallied around the family, proving that it wasn't the consensus of the village for the wedding to be banished and confirming suspicions that the letter was penned by one 'hateful' individual.
Callum said: "So many people came to the house or stopped us in the street to say it had nothing to do with them. The amount of support we received showed it wasn't the village that felt like it as a whole. It is just some bigoted individual."
Callum's family went on to write a letter in response to the author of the hate mail, asking them to come forward.
It was published in the latest edition of the village newsletter - but as yet, the person behind the mail still hasn't made themselves known to the family.
A spokesperson for Avon and Somerset Police said: "We have been advised of a letter which we were treating as a potential hate mail.
"The matter has been filed pending any further information or evidence. Anyone able to help is asked to contact us, quoting reference 5219059204."
Featured Image Credit: SWNS