IT’S never too late for love at first sight, as a couple in their 80s have shown after getting engaged just months after meeting at a sheltered housing development on the Wirral.
Joe Williams, 84, and Rachel Monger, 80, both moved into Manor House, a sheltered development for Alpha Living, last year after the loss of their respective partners.
But a romance was about to blossom between the two gardening lovers, who have seized their chance of a new life together, with Joe proposing on Valentine’s Day.
“I was never a believer in the whole falling in love at first sight thing, but that’s what it was like,” says Rachel, who worked as a social worker for 20 years and lost her first husband a year ago. “We fell in love straight away. It was like magic.”
Joe, who was a nuclear power station foreman in the past, plucked up the courage to ask Rachel out for a meal in November after they bonded over a Remembrance Sunday chat.
“I had a few tears in my eyes thinking about my wife, who I lost last year,” he recalled. “I had come back from a walk and Rachel was sat on the couch near our apartments doing a jigsaw and she called me over for a chat. She was very kind and talked to me. Things went from there.”
The couple – who between them have seven children, 16 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren – have been ‘together ever since’. Joe popped the question over a meal in his flat – which was bedecked with candles and roses.
The smitten pair hope that their story will inspire more people to continue to find love later in life, and not see a move into new accommodation as a backwards step.
Manor House is a development of 36 one-bed apartments which offer residents independence and support, with a lively communal lounge which hosts coffee mornings, games of bingo, parties and delicious meals.
“Sometimes there’s a bit of stigma around people living in sheltered developments, but it’s absolute nonsense,” says Rachel. “We may be a little older, but we know how to have a good time. Some of the parties we have are fantastic.
“I’m so glad I’ve met Joe. It’s been tough times for both of us, but you can’t live in the past. We’re both really positive people and we’ve got lots of good years ahead of us.”
Joe says: “We couldn’t ask for a better place to live. We’ve got lots of friends, we’re always out in the community and we don’t have a house to run. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve made. Now I’ve met Rachel, it’s even better.”