Their love for Elvis Presley's music brought the couple together and he sings her Love Me Tender every day.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on September 23, 2019. It has since been updated.
Tommy Pilling, 64, and Maryanne Pilling, 52, have been married for 27 years. While they don't have any kids, they enjoy their life, live close to their family, and take care of each other. That's the story of many people, but what sets Tommy and Maryanne is that they are UK' first Down Syndrome couple to be married. They defied all odds, shut the harshest of critics up, and got married.
However, something unfortunate happened to them a few years ago and things are getting harder. Tommy developed dementia five years ago and his condition is getting more severe. His dementia makes him forget his wife sometimes, which makes her "hysterical", according to Metro UK. Her sister, Lindi Newman, told the Express: "He’s forgotten who Maryanne is a handful of times. It always happens really late at night. 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 absolutely crushed and hysterical. She calls me up and I throw on my shoes and go across the road to try and calm them down. It’s scary for Tommy too, but then he forgets anything has happened."
The 48-year-old's family tries to reassure her by explaining that Tommy's brain is unwell but his situation has gotten aggravated enough that she probably wouldn't be able to be with him in residential care. For someone who loved her man from the first time she saw him, this is bound to be traumatic.
Those who know them call their relationship a "magical fairytale". The couple, that lives in Southend-on-Sea, Essex since July 1995 when they got married, profess love to each other every day. It was Elvis that brought them together and Tommy sings Love Me Tender to his wife everyday. According to Metro UK, he pointed to his ring saying "I wear this every day. I married her, I did."
Last year, the 48-year-old said that her wedding was the best day of her life. The couple dated for 18 months before he asked her to marry him with a plastic ring from a vending machine. However, his now mother-in-law intervened and got them a real ring. "My wedding was the best day of my life. 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," Maryanne said. However, she might be losing her best friend soon.
Tommy has had a difficult life as he lost both parents by the time he was 12 and was in residential care. Then there was a ray of hope and Maryanne’s family took him in. They had initially met in 1990 at a life skills training center. Until recently, they used to spend their days walking by the sea, singing together, or cooking together, defying those who thought that people born with Down's Syndrome wouldn't have a normal life.
Her sister, Lindi, who maintains a social media page for them, had previously said that they are an inspiration to many people with children or grandchildren with Down's Syndrome. She said that when they walk on the street around their home by the sea sometimes people stare, but they make a "statement in a good way". Over the years, they have received many lovely wishes from people who were inspired by the Pillings. Those who wrote to them hoped that their loved ones with the condition could fall in love and live happily too.