Tommy proposed after they'd been dating for 18 months, and that was more than 20 years ago. Even though there were skeptics, they proved everyone wrong.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on August 12, 2019. It has since been updated.
Marriage is equal parts hard work and bliss for a lot of couples. However, the joy it brings because you get to spend the rest of your life with your favorite person makes up for everything. It shouldn't be any different for a couple with Down's Syndrome either.
The first couple with Down's Syndrome to tie the knot in the United Kingdom completed 24 years together this year and are super happy. Initially, the couple had to battle a lot of skepticism as people told them that their relationship wouldn't work. Maryanne and Tommy Pilling tied the know in an Essex church more than twenty years ago. They dated for 18 months after meeting at a daycare center before Tommy popped the question.
When he wanted to propose, he didn't have enough money to buy the ring so decided to propose with a plastic ring from the vending machine. However, when Maryanne's mom, Linda Martin, found out about this plan she helped him choose and buy a ring for her daughter. 24 years ago, when he proposed, Maryanne "jumped with joy". Many people disapproved, but thankfully, her family was completely supportive.
"My wedding was the best day of my life," Marryane told Independent. "I was shocked when Tommy proposed but I didn't have to think twice about saying yes." "Tommy and I never argue. I love my husband very much. He is my best friend," she says.
Her family has been with them through it all. “My mum has been 100 percent supportive,” Lindi Newman, Maryanne's sister told Today.com. “Anyone should have the right to marry the love of their life without prejudice or discrimination," she said. “Our mum has supported them from day one ... Tommy doesn’t have any family,” Lindi said. “They have round-the-clock support from us.”
Lindi and her family live next door to Maryanne and Tommy, so that they can be there for the couple if and when needed. "Maryanne had dreamed about a big white wedding since she was a little girl and that's exactly what she had. It was a beautiful day," she added.
The couple celebrated his 60th birthday in March 2018 and they are as much in love as ever. The couple has gained some fame on Facebook after their page, handled by Maryanne's sister, Lindi Newman, became a hit overnight. They share parts of their daily lives and lots of photos of the couple, which has inspired a lot of people.
After all these years, "their advice is still the same — to be honest and to spend time together as much as possible," said Lindi, according to Today.com.
According to Lindi, they are viewed as an unusual couple but they are also the source of inspiration for many others. "When they walk down the street holding hands they make a statement but in a good way," she told The Independent. "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," she added.
People reach out to the couple on social media through their Facebook page to tell them how they have given them hope about their kids with Down's Syndrome. “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,” Lindi added.
Like any other strong couple, they too are asked what makes their relationship so good. Lindi says, "What keeps their marriage so strong is that there is never a hidden agenda. They love each other with their whole hearts and are honest with one another."