Although they'll have been married for 25 years this July, to them it seems like just yesterday when Tommy proposed to Maryanne with a toy ring from a vending machine.
Maryanne and Tommy Pilling's love story is one for the ages. Since tying the knot in 1995, this couple has shown those around them what marital bliss truly looks like. Believed to be the world's longest married couple with Down syndrome, they are now planning to celebrate their upcoming wedding anniversary with a huge party at their home with friends and family. Although they'll have been married for 25 years this July, to them it seems like just yesterday when Tommy proposed to Maryanne with a toy ring from a vending machine.
According to their Facebook page, Maryanne and Tommy, the couple first met in 1990 while working in a local training center for people with disabilities. Realizing that there was something special between them, they soon began dating and in about a year, Tommy was sure he wanted to marry her. "It soon became clear that something special was beginning to happen. Soon they began dating and 18 months later Tommy decided to propose to Maryanne. Of course, he asked Maryanne’s mum (Linda) for permission first - he is such a gent! They spent as much time together as they possibly could, spending alternate weekends at each other’s homes," the page reveals.
Speaking to Daily Mail about their relationship, the 48-year-old Maryanne said: "Tommy and I never argue. I love my husband very much. He is my best friend." Her sister Lindi Newman, who is a full-time carer, stated that to the best of their knowledge, Maryanne and Tommy are now the longest living married couple with Down syndrome. "The fact that they're still living independently and are doing great together, it's amazing. These last few years have been substantially harder and Maryanne does get upset - Maryanne had dreamt of a big white wedding since she was a little girl, and their relationship is one that has always been full of love," she said.
Unfortunately, Tommy was recently diagnosed with dementia. Fearing that the 62-year-old's condition could tear the couple apart, Maryanne's mother and sister help her take care of him. "Tommy doesn't sleep, and whilst his memory isn't that bad, he does get mood swings and it's clear, his health is declining rapidly. But their family is all around them - Tommy lost his family quite young and we took him in 30 years ago now. He's part of the family and their relationship - it's absolutely wonderful," Lindi revealed.
"Maryanne doesn't remember a life before Tommy. The day she met him, she had the biggest smile on her face and she couldn't stop talking about him. With their 25th wedding anniversary coming up, we're planning a big party in July. Whilst Maryanne and Tommy might not have the concept of what an achievement it is, to them, it's just their relationship, to us it's just absolutely brilliant," she added. "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," Maryanne gushed.
The couple's wedding day was all kinds of perfect, "surrounded by family, friends and so much love." 250 guests enjoyed the day-long celebration while Maryanne stunned in her beautiful white dress, tiara, and long veil, and Tommy in his custom suit. However, they did encounter some naysayers when they first got engaged. According to their Facebook page, "many people doubted them, said it was disgusting and they shouldn’t be allowed to get married, they also said that it would never work." Today, this couple's love-filled marriage is a fitting reply to all those who thought they wouldn't make it.