This Life: A new residential home manager proved the catalyst for fulfilling Ron Gentry's dreams of marriage
I feel like I'm Prince Charming who has found his real-life Cinderella. Not only have I married the woman I've been in love with for the last 20 years but as a bonus wedding present I won an award from Mencap in the same month.
I was told I could never marry Susie. According to our first care home manager, who I thought of as our evil step-mother, it wasn't a good idea. Susie and I fell in love when I first moved into a care home in Hastings more than 20 years ago. Back then we were told we weren't allowed to get married because we both had learning difficulties. Although this upset us we were just so happy being together that we gave up on the marriage idea, thinking that people like us just couldn't tie the knot.
Luckily the house we lived in changed hands and Craegmoor Healthcare took over. Susie and I still talked about our dream of marriage and much to our surprise our new care home manager thought it was a great idea. So together we started to plan our big day. Everything was going really well. Susie found her dream dress and the register office was booked but then our care home manager left for a new position and none of our wedding plans could be traced. Susie was so upset and I felt we'd never be married.
When our next care home manager, Lian, arrived, she told us that she would be our fairy godmother and we could have our wedding. She started from scratch, drew up a list and made it all come together within four weeks. I couldn't believe it; how she pulled it all off I'll never know. We didn't even have a budget but Lian was able to wave her magic wand and friends came to our rescue. One friend offered to make the cake, another provided the cars, other friends decorated the football hall where our reception was to be held and a local department store offered Susie a free makeover.
Lian even got her hands on a picture of Susie's wedding dress and was able to get someone to make it for us so it was the perfect fit. I was blown away by everyone's kindness.
The wedding was a dream come true. I suppose I couldn't really believe it was all happening. It's what we had wanted for so long, I guess it just felt surreal - like I was dreaming and soon someone would wake me up and tell me it wasn't really happening. But it did happen and all our friends and family were there to see it. I wasn't nervous until it came to giving my speech but, as in fairytales, everything went perfectly.
When I thought my life couldn't get any better, after the wedding I found out Mencap wanted to present me with an award for a story I wrote about my life. My story was published in a local newspaper and a national magazine and my award was presented to me at a big awards dinner in London. It was all very exciting. I felt so important and on top of the world. All my dreams have come true and Susie and me are living happily ever after.
Ron Gentry has learning difficulties