AN octogenarian couple who found love at first sight after moving into the same sheltered housing scheme are set to get their fairytale ending this month as they tie the knot.
Joe Williams, 84, and Rachel Monger, 80, both moved into Manor House, a sheltered development run by Alpha Living, last year after the loss of their respective partners.
It soon became clear that a romance was about to blossom between the two gardening lovers who made their relationship official on Valentine’s Day this year when Williams got down on one knee.
The couple will wed at Bromborough Methodist Church on 21st September surrounded by friends and respective families, which includes seven children, 16 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
“I was never a believer in the whole falling in love at first sight thing, but that’s what it was like,” says blushing bride Monger, who worked as a social worker for 20 years and lost her first husband two years ago.
“We fell in love straight away. I knew very quickly that I wanted to marry this man so when he asked it really was a dream come true.”
Williams, who was a nuclear power station foreman in the past, plucked up the courage to ask Monger 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 have been “together ever since” and Williams popped the question over a meal in his flat — which was bedecked with candles and roses.
The pair kept their engagement secret at first and surprised family with the big announcement in February. They have been planning their nuptials ever since.
The soon to be Mr and Mrs Williams 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 at Bromborough 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.
“We are all absolutely over the moon to see Rachel and Joe take such a special step in their relationship,” said Debbie O’Shaughnessy, development manager at Manor House. “They both epitomise exactly what we strive for at Alpha — to create homes for people to thrive, remain independent and enjoy life.
“Our residents and their families tell us that living in Manor House is nothing like the stereotypical sheltered schemes people sometimes picture. They are places to gain new life experiences, not just reminisce on past ones.
“Our whole team and all the residents at Manor House send our huge congratulations and well wishes to the happy couple on their big day. We’re looking forward to the celebrations.”
Monger added: “Sometimes there’s a bit of stigma around people living in sheltered developments, but it’s absolute nonsense. We may be a little older, but we know how to have a good time. Some of the parties we have are fantastic! And we know our wedding reception will be no exception.
“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. You’ve got to look forward. We’re both really positive people and we’ve got lots of good years ahead of us.”
Williams added: “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. I can’t wait to call her my wife.”