This story of a couple with Down’s Syndrome who have just celebrated 22 years of married bliss is giving us all the Friday feels.
When Maryanne, now 45, and Tommy Pilling, 59, first announced that they were getting married, they faced a torrent of criticism. The pair had been dating for around 18 months before Tommy got down on one knee, but some people weren’t happy about it. So much so that some questioned whether the marriage should go ahead.
But, ignoring their critics, Maryanne and Tommy went on to wed at St Mary’s Church in Shoeburyness, in July 1995, becoming the first Down’s Syndrome couple to do so. And 22 years later are still every bit as in love. Awww.
And though people doubted their relationship in the beginning, a Facebook page, set up by Maryanne’s sister, Lindi Newman, has quietly clocked up over 6,000 followers from people captivated by the couple’s love story.
“The day Maryanne met Tommy she came home with the biggest smile on her face,” Lindi said. “She couldn’t stop talking about him and asked if he could come for dinner.”
The couple dated for about 18 months before Tommy asked Maryanne’s mum if he could propose with a toy ring from a vending machine.
“My mum immediately said yes but wanted them to do it properly so took him to a jewellery shop to buy a proper ring.”
The couple live together independently, with their family next door in case they are needed and their unwavering devotion to each other has served to gently prove their doubters wrong.
Though the family received a lot of criticism at the time for letting the pair get married, they hope the couple’s ongoing love story sends out a positive message to others about Down’s Syndrome.
“When they walk down the street holding hands they make a statement but in a good way,” Lindi says.
“Some people stare, they assume people with Down’s syndrome and learning difficulties can’t get married. But we also get so many lovely lovely messages from people who are inspired by their story.
“People worried about their own children or grandchildren with Down’s syndrome get hope from Maryanne and Tommy’s story.”
“Hope that their children can also fall in love and live happily ever after.”
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