Down syndrome patients, Paul and Andrea were told multiple times by people they cannot marry because of their disability. But they made it against all odds and lived happy years of their married life.
It wasn’t easy to survive for them but social workers were amazed to see this very first disable married couple growing like a normal couple.
Andrea and Paul wed in 2004 turning their childhood love into a long-term bond.
They met for the first time in the hone for children with learning difficulties and they grew up falling in love with each other that finally made the strange wedding happen.
“I love Paul this much. Now he is my husband I am so proud,” said 37-years-old Andrea while talking to the Daily Mail back in 2006. “I give him a kiss in the morning when he leaves for work and I shout after him ‘I love you Paul’ and he says ‘I love you, Andrea,’ and I watch him as he walks all the way down the road.”
“I know that some people say we should not have got married, but why not? We love each other very much and we look after each other,” she told Daily Mail.
They lived a normal life besides Andrea having a serious heart condition due to her disability and Paul for his welfare had to depend upon a carer to see if they are coping with the domestic tasks properly.
Andrea was sent to the Ormerod Children’s Home in Lytham St. Annes, Lancashire when she was three years old. And Paul was raised in a foster home but he reached Ormerod at the age of 13 after his foster mother gave up on taking care of his serious condition.
There they became good friends and as they told they fell in love. In their late teen years, they were separated as Andrea was sent to a secure community house while Paul stayed at Ormerod which was now an adult centre.
It was when social workers allowed Andrea to pursue a part-time job at a hotel after seeing satisfactory reports of her high functioning Down ’s syndrome. It was when she realized she missed Paul.
“I missed him. I heard music and I wanted to dance with him,” she said. “If I felt sad inside my heart, there was no one to make me laugh anymore.”
“I wanted to see my friend, so I asked my carer if I could invite him over for tea, and she said yes. I was so excited and I chose some special biscuits.”
Social workers took good care and drove Paul safely to Andrea’s house for a happy 3-hours meeting.
When they saw each other at door, they just fell into each other’s arms, to the shock of everyone who saw.
“It suddenly became obvious just how much they had missed each other,” said carer Ever Millar.
“Andrea was so thrilled to see Paul – She took him by the hand and led him to her little sitting room, and they were both so happy.”
“They had always been inseparable at the children’s home – and suddenly here they were, together again and loving every moment. Without each other, they existed. Together, they just shone.”
They fought the world and continued to see each other regardless what people said and what consequences their relationship could have brought and at the end, they wanted to marry.
It was shocking for everyone who knew them. Social workers went worried for the consequences such as the pregnancy complications and that whether they understand the seriousness of the marriage vows.
However, in 1995 the couple received a blessing when a compromise was reached. But it was not enough for them. They wanted to be committed like all other practising Christians. They wanted legal church ceremony for their sacred vows. They made it happen with their consent as they were over age and nobody from the social work setting could interrupt their dream coming true.
“Paul asked me to marry him and I told him yes. I cried – some big fat tears went down my face because I was so happy,” Andrea told Daily Mail. “Paul got down his knee and said: ‘Will you marry me?’ and I said: ‘Yes.’ I loved him so much I could actually feel inside my heart. I had seen pictures of ladies getting married, in the magazine, and I wanted to look like that, too.”
Andrea always wanted to celebrate her wedding like all other people in the world.
“I wanted to have a pretty white dress, and I wanted Paul to have a smart suit and I wanted to be with him always,” she said. “That is what marriage means – to love somebody and to be with them always.”
The couple had saved up for the wedding dress, suit, and gold that made their wedding a perfect one. However, Andrea was given anti-pregnancy injections as her heart was to weak to stand giving birth.
Everybody expected the marriage to work and it worked.
“There were many barriers put in their way but their love for each other was so obvious but the birth control was needed to protect Andrea’s heart,” said Sue Sharples, then director of the Trust.
“We love being Mr and Mrs together,” Andrea told Daily Mail in 2006. “I make Paul a meal in evening and we sit on the sofa next to each other. We love to watch Coronation Street or Doctor Who.”
“We look at our wedding album every day and the pictures make us smile. If it is sunny, we go for walks and we hold hands. Or Paul plays his music and we dance and tell each other jokes.”
She expressed her love saying: “I’m just a normal wife and Paul is just my normal husband. That’s all we’ve ever wanted to be.”
Such an inspiration Andrea and Paul have been for each other and for the rest of the world.