‘I didn’t know anything about it until I went for coffee with my daughter on Monday morning. She said ‘mum, you’re famous!’

An Ilfracombe grandmother has spoken of her surprise after becoming an overnight global internet sensation.

Theresa Saunders mistakenly called police in Barnstable, USA, to report a crash while driving home from Barnstaple, North Devon on Thursday afternoon.

A recording of the two-minute conversation with a Massachusetts police officer has been viewed thousands of times since the Gazette broke the story in the UK on Sunday night.

Theresa Saunders, from Ilfracombe, mistakenly called police in Barnstable, USA to report a traffic incident in Barnstaple, North Devon. Picture: Andy KeebleTheresa Saunders, from Ilfracombe, mistakenly called police in Barnstable, USA to report a traffic incident in Barnstaple, North Devon. Picture: Andy Keeble

Speaking to the Gazette today (Wednesday) Theresa, 59, said: “It’s all a bit surreal really; I didn’t know anything about it until I went for coffee with my daughter on Monday morning. She said ‘mum, you’re famous!’.

Baffled

“I was baffled; I really couldn’t believe it – I never expected to hear a recording of it and just kept laughing.

“It was a phone call of a lifetime. I’ve just been interviewed by an American TV station and they said I’m celebrity over there.”

Theresa said she was driving home with a friend after attending an art group at the Salvation Army in Barnstaple on Thursday afternoon.

“We’d also done a bit of shopping but when we were driving home through Muddiford, there was a car in front driving really erratically.

“He went over the white line a few times and hit the wing mirror of a car coming the other way so I decided I’d report him to the police when we got home.

“I asked my friend to find the number for Barnstaple police on her phone and she used the phone app Cortana to find the number.

“I just called the number that came up and that’s how I got put through to police in Barnstable.”

Global coverage

A recording of her hilarious conversation with Barnstable police officer Mark McWilliams was posted on YouTube by Massachusetts news website HyannisNews.com.

When the Gazette picked up the story on Sunday night, the remarkable audio clip had been viewed nearly 2,000 times.

The story has since been picked up by newspapers and television stations around the world – including as far away as Australia – and has now been viewed nearly 21,500 times.

“He was lovely, so patient,” said mum-of-four Theresa, who also has four grandchildren.

“I’ve listened to the call a few times this week and I still laugh at it.

Good sport

“It’s a good job I can laugh at myself. I’ve had more good feedback than negative; a couple of people said it sounded like a hoax but it really wasn’t.

“I like the fact that I’ve made a lot of people laugh; if I’ve managed to allow people to forget their troubles for five minutes then I’m happy.

“It’s changed my life and the way I look at things; it’s made me realise how one simple thing can change things so quickly.”