Audrey, 70, and John, 64, met at school, and have been a couple for almost all of their adult lives. They lived for many years in the same sheltered accommodation block. Then, 25 years ago, they decided to get married and live together in their own home in Stowmarket, Suffolk. Ever since they married, they’ve been supported in their own bungalow by Mencap support workers, who support them with things like cleaning, cooking and personal care. They have lots of friends in town, and lead an active life. In May 2016, they celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary.
I’m happily married to John and we want to stay that way! We met at school. We used to go to dances. I was only 18 then – my dad used to take me over there for dances. We’ve lived in this house for 20 years. We’ve been to different places before we came here. I love this place. I don’t want to move any more. We’re happy where we are. My brother-in-law comes every Wednesday and helps us to clean up. John likes the big space. We go out in the garden, and hang the washing on the line.
We decided to get married because we loved each other. My sister used to call him my toyboy! I got John to ask my dad, and he said yes you can, you can get married. We were very happy. We‘ve got photos of our wedding day. It was on the 18th of May that we got married at the Baptist church in Stowmarket. It was on cup final day. I wore that dress in the photo. We had an organist, and the family got cars for us so we didn’t have to pay. We had three bridesmaids – my niece in blue, and John’s nieces. All our family and friends were guests, and we had a wedding reception.
We do have lots of happy memories. We went on honeymoon to Germany – Feldberg. John got drunk, and I had to get him undressed on our honeymoon!
We cook together, cut the vegetables up for dinner – sometimes they’ll go on the floor. Yorkshire puddings, I can make. It’s easy. And I make other things, like mum used to make – sausage and leek pie is easy to make, I’ve done it before. That’s what John likes. Tonight we’ve got fish and chips for tea from the fish bar – they do it from scratch.
We help each other to do things. We help make the bed together, put the pillowslips on – because he will put them on funny!
We get support from Mencap workers, to shower me and help to cook and things, bills and shopping. The staff come with me to get my money out. I’ve been shopping today with Graham [support worker]. They do help a lot. Someone comes every day, morning and night. There’s different ones. We have a rota so we know who’s coming. We get on well with all of them.
We do go out into town a lot, shopping and things. We have friends around. We’ve got Helen across the way, and all our neighbours are friends, we get on well with all of them. We’ve got Billy [our budgie]. We got him a long time ago now. I like looking after things, and we can leave him on his own when we go out, where you can’t with a dog. If we leave the radio on, he’ll chirp to it. One of the budgies we had liked country music!
We go to the Wellington pub across the way. We have friends who come and see us. Our friend Marilyn comes round, but she gives all her attention to the budgie! She’ll give it orders.
We go out on our own, but if we have any appointments the staff go with us. We go shopping, or we go to Greggs for something. We go to church, clubs, different things. We know a lot of people in town. Sometimes I see my auntie’s daughter Daisy.
We share the cleaning with the staff. There’s a book that tells you all the jobs we do. The staff help us do our tablets.
We had our 25th wedding anniversary at Stowmarket football club. My sister did the food, and it was very good. It was a bit noisy! It made me happy when all my family came – like my late sister’s daughter and her partner Jim, I hadn’t seen him for ages, and my older sister, I hadn’t seen her for ages. I’ve got loads of family.
On the weekend, we’ll go to church on Sunday. We’ve got to get the kitchen done, the workmen are coming on Monday. The table’s got to be moved in here [into the living room] Eight o’clock they’re coming – it’s not worth going to bed at night! It’ll be nice when it’s done.
Recently John was in hospital. I was very upset. When he came back I felt very happy. He went away for convalescence, and then he got better and he came back home. I went to visit him in hospital. When I left the hospital he didn’t want me to go – cried his eyes out, got very upset. John’s a good husband, although he does get his off and on days. He can be grumpy!
We love each other a lot, that’s the truth.