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World’s longest-married couple with Down’s Syndrome celebrate 28th wedding anniversary

THE world’s longest-married couple with Down’s Syndrome have celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary – and say they are more in love than ever.

Gareth Tobias, 56, and wife Deana, 58, met as teenagers at their local community centre and have been inseparable ever since.

They married in front of 50 guests at a church in Penrith, Cumbria, in 1992, 11 years after falling in love.

And despite the ups and downs that all married couples experience they are as happy as ever.

Deana said: “We met at the community centre we both went to. He was 17 and I was 19.

“I thought he was nice and he liked me because he thought I was good looking.

“We got engaged when we were on holiday in Blackpool, it was on my birthday and it was me that proposed to him, but I knew he wanted to get married.

“We are together all the time except when he is at work and we have lots of laughs and we look after each other.

“He teases me about having tennis elbow because he says I’ve never played tennis.”

Morrisons worker Gareth said: “I like to work, I’m the man of the house and I enjoy my job.

“When I’m not working we go to the club together and play dominoes. I like a pint of bitter and Deana has a Wkd Blue. We’re very happy together.”

The couple have lived in Penrith all their married life in the centre of a community that has taken them to its heart.

Lorraine Heyworth, 60, stewardess of Penrith Conservative Club, took them a cooked meal every day while it was closed during lockdown.

She said: “They are a really inspiring, lovely and loving couple and we’ve become very close to them.

“They like to come in every day but when that wasn’t possible we made sure they had a cooked meal taken to them every day, we just wanted to make sure they knew we were there for them.

“They love a drink – in moderation – a game of dominoes and if we have a singer on they’ll get up and dance.

“They’re so nice together, but like any other couple they have their arguments, we’ve seen a few tiffs and rows over the years but they always make up. I suppose that’s what a long marriage is all about.”

Gareth’s sister Julie Titterington, 50, a council’s apprenticeship officer, said: “Their marriage has been long and very happy. They live a very independent life and Gareth likes to be able to look after them by working, that’s very important to him.

“They’re well known in Penrith and people look out for them, especially at the club and The Lounge where they also like to pop in for a drink. As the years have gone on they do a little bit less than they did.

“They used to love to go on holiday to Butlins, but they still lead a very full enjoyable life and are very happy together after 28 years or marriage.”

A spokesperson for the Down’s Syndrome Association said: “Many congratulations to Deana and Gareth on their 28th wedding anniversary.

“Although back in the early 1990s it was probably highly unusual for a couple who both have Down’s Syndrome to get married, thankfully this is becoming more common.

“With the right support and guidance, couples who have Down’s syndrome can live the same independent, full and rewarding lives as anybody else, and we as an organisation are always here to provide help along that journey.”

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