Maryanne and Tommy Pilling were one of the first couples with Down syndrome to get married and 22 years later they are still “blissfully” happy.
The couple, who live in Shoeburyness, Southend on Sea in Essex, England, got married in 1995 after Tommy bought Maryanne a ring from a toy vending machine and asked her mother for permission.
Two years ago Maryanne’s younger sister Lindi Newman started a Facebook page to chronicle their romance, and thousands of people now follow them.
“Their relationship is so special because there are no hidden agendas, their love for one another is pure,” Newman told Us Weekly. “They love each other with their whole hearts.”
The couple’s story went viral earlier this month when PopSugar posted a video on their relationship that has racked up more than 1.4 million views.
“You two have an amazing love story and are an example to the world on how happy a marriage can be despite what the obstacles are,” wrote one woman. “You make me believe in love,” wrote another.
Newman remembers the day that her older sister Maryanne came home with a huge smile on her face and kept talking about someone she had met named Tommy. His parents had died when he was a young boy and he lived in a local care home.
After they decided to get married, “our mum took him out to the jewelry shop and he chose a proper ring for her.”
Now Maryanne, 45, and Tommy, 59, live next door to her mother in their own apartment, right across from her sister, who is married with two children. The couple are both in great health, and they love to play golf, bowl and go to the movies, Newman said.
The couple will celebrate their 23rd wedding anniversary in July.
“Their relationship is like a fairy tale,” Newman told Us. “They live in a wonderful bubble where they are so blissfully happy being together.”
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