A pair from Southend-on-Sea, England, who is believed to be the world’s longest-married couple with Down syndrome got to celebrate their love for each other with a milestone wedding anniversary this year.
In July 2020, the duo Maryanne, 49, and Tommy Pilling, 62, got to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary and recalled the adorable moment that Tommy proposed to the love of his life with a toy ring from a vending machine.
Tommy popped the question after a year and a half with his sweetheart, but not before asking Maryanne’s mother, Linda, for her blessing. The couple married in a beautiful church ceremony in 1995, and a quarter of a century on, they are still very much in love.
“My wedding was the best day of my life,” Maryanne told the Daily Mail. “I was shocked when Tommy proposed, but I didn’t have to think twice about saying yes.”
“Tommy and I never argue,” she continued. “I love my husband very much. He is my best friend.”
The lovebirds celebrated their silver wedding anniversary on July 15 with a socially distant garden party, thousands of greetings from well-wishers around the world, and their favorite takeaway food, according to the South End Echo.
Maryanne’s sister, Lindi Newman, a 32-year-old full-time carer, praised Tommy and Maryanne for their long relationship. “The fact that they’re still living independently and are doing great together, it’s amazing,” she marveled.
Looking back at their wedding ceremony, Maryanne, her sister explained, had always dreamt of a big white wedding. “[T]hat’s exactly what she had,” Lindi told The Express. “It was a beautiful day.”
“Some people stare, they assume people with Down syndrome and learning difficulties can’t get married,” Lindi continued, adding that when Tommy and Maryanne walk down the street holding hands, they make a statement, “but in a good way.”
Tommy, however, is facing an escalating battle with dementia since being diagnosed in 2014. The family has rallied round in an effort to ensure that the doting husband and wife can remain living together, even while Tommy’s condition deteriorates.
On reaching their milestone wedding anniversary, Tommy spoke of their relationship, saying: “We’re so happy. To this day I remember thinking of how lovely she was when we first met and even now we’re still together after all this time.”
However, owing to his condition, Tommy doesn’t sleep well, he is increasingly forgetful, and he suffers mood swings. On occasion, he even fails to recognize his wife. But Maryanne, while devastated, is able to forgive her husband when she is reminded of his unreliable memory.
“They are the perfect example of anything being possible with love,” Lindi told The Mirror, “meaning couples can overcome any obstacles as long as love is there.”
Maryanne, Lindi, and their 69-year-old mother, Linda, help take care of Tommy, as he lost his family at a young age; thus, Maryanne’s became his own.
Choosing to focus on the love they share after 25 years of a happy marriage, the couple has a Facebook page for their over 65,000 followers. Their longevous love story continues to inspire others to believe in the concept of “the one.”
“[T]o them it’s just their relationship,” Lindi considered; “to us, it’s just absolutely brilliant.”
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