Happenings

See London’s First Down’s Syndrome Couple That Married 24 Years Ago And Now facing Devastating Diagnosis

See London’s First Down's Syndrome Couple That Married 24 Years Ago And Now facing Devastating Diagnosis

Tommy, 61, adds: “I wear this every day. I married her, I did.”

From their daily walks on the beach in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, to rustling up something special in the kitchen, they have done everything together since meeting at a life skills training centre in July 1990.

See London’s First Down's Syndrome Couple That Married 24 Years Ago And Now facing Devastating Diagnosis

Sadly, Tommy lost both parents by 12 and was in residential care but Maryanne’s family took him under their wing.

After 18 months, Tommy bought a plastic ring from a vending machine and, having asked permission from Maryanne’s mum, Linda Martin, he popped the question.

Linda, 69, says: “When I sent out the invitations people said it wouldn’t last and asked me what I’d do if it didn’t.

But we need to treat Tommy and Maryanne like adults. Everyone should be able to marry the love of their lives.”

The big day itself was certainly something to remember as 250 family and friends gathered at church in 1995.

See London’s First Down's Syndrome Couple That Married  24 Years Ago And Now facing Devastating Diagnosis

Maryanne says: “We got married on July 15. I had a white dress and I wore a crown like a princess.

“And Tommy was in a suit with a shirt and tie. My wedding day was the best day of my life. I love my husband. He is my best friend.”

Maryanne and Tommy then moved in with Linda before getting their own flat, next door, in 2002.

Maryanne says: “We got married on July 15. I had a white dress and I wore a crown like a princess.

“And Tommy was in a suit with a shirt and tie. My wedding day was the best day of my life. I love my husband. He is my best friend.”

Maryanne and Tommy then moved in with Linda before getting their own flat, next door, in 2002.

But devastatingly, Tommy may not be able to remember their 25th anniversary next year.

He was diagnosed with dementia five years ago and already struggles to do day-to-day tasks like tying his shoelaces or washing his hair.

Heartbreakingly, he also sometimes forgets who Maryanne is. If he continues to decline, her family fear they may be forced to separate for the first time.

Maryanne’s sister Lindi Newman, 31, says: “He’s forgotten who Maryanne is a handful of times. He pushes her away and says, ‘I don’t know who you are’ and ‘I don’t love you’.

“Maryanne takes that to heart and is hysterical. She calls me and I go across the road to calm them down. It’s scary for Tommy too but then he forgets anything has happened.

“We tell her Tommy forgets things because his brain’s a bit poorly and he’s getting older.

“But we take each day as it comes because we’ve been told if Tommy needs residential care, Maryanne wouldn’t be able to go with him. We’d do whatever we could to stop it happening.”

Maryanne is also determined to do everything she can to help Tommy.

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Omotunde Alata

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