Words: Lizzy Dening and Alex Frisby Pics: Ruth Jenkinson & UNP
When Rita Fellows was left widowed after her husband Alan passed away in 2003 she thought she would never find love again. But all that changed when Rita spotted an appeal in our Friends of Yours section. Scanning the pages Rita’s attention was captured by an entry from fellow widower Jack Fox, a retired bank official whose beloved wife Sheila has passed away in 2002.
She was so taken with the appeal that she decided to write to him. “My first letter to Jack included a photograph and some information about me,” says Rita, “and I explained that I wasn’t looking for an angel or a millionaire, just a lovely man, who would hopefully take care of me for the rest of my life.”
After speaking on the phone, the pair discovered they lived quite near each other – Rita in Hayward’s Heath, West Sussex and Jack in nearby Tonbridge.
Rita recalls: “We first met face to face in a pub in Hayward’s Heath. My first impression of Jack was that he seemed a very lonely man, who had a lot of love and loyalty to offer. He was quiet and vulnerable – I felt like putting my arms around him and giving him a cuddle.
“Afterwards Jack wrote to me saying he was smitten and wanted to meet again as soon as possible. I thought he was the perfect old-fashioned gent, with impeccable manners, and slowly began to think ‘this is it!’ ”
Rita (75) adds: “It was nice meeting a widower, as he had felt the same loneliness as me. We’d both been through the trauma of bereavement and our needs were the same. We’d both loved our partners very much and were on the same page in terms of our outlook for the future.”
The couple have big families in common, too: Jack (80) has three daughters, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, while Rita has four sons and nine grandchildren.
Jack says: “I put the advert in after feeling very lonely after my wife passed away. She was a Yours reader, as is my sister, so it seemed a good place to start looking for a new companion.
“Rita had everything I was looking for – she’s loyal, kind, artistic, a fantastic cook and has a lovely figure. I can’t believe my luck – she’s changed my life!
The pair, who first met when Rita was 64 and Jack 69, now live together in Worthing and have seen each other through difficult times.
“In the last two years Jack has had two serious illnesses and I’ve just had the all clear on bladder cancer,” says Rita. “We’re best friends and great companions, with never a cross word.”
And they both hope that sharing their story will help others looking for love to have hope. “Losing someone is so difficult but there is a way through,” says Rita.
Married on Valentine’s Day
Marian Twitchett (73, main picture) was a dedicated nurse for more than 40 years, had a loving family and was settling into retirement in Wiltshire with her partner, Peter and King Charles Spaniel, Trixie.
Then tragedy struck in 2004, when Marian lost both Peter and Trixie in an incredibly short space of time.
“To be suddenly left on my own was awful,” she says. “My family were very supportive, but I joined a walking club, an art club… and I’d even pop into the supermarket, just for company.”
But then life changed, the day Marian bought a copy of Yours. “I read the Friends of Yours pages and saw my chance to change things.”
After sending in her appeal, Marian received a letter from widower Harry, now 80, from just the other side of the county. But it was only a short note to say he was unfortunately unable to reply properly, as he had other letters to write!
“I wrote back saying how cheeky that was when I was only just down the road and that night, he phoned me.”
They met for lunch in September 2008 and haven’t stopped chatting since. “Though I’d heard his voice on the phone I had no idea what he looked like. And, in true ex-army officer style, he had a moustache! That was a slight shock, but I’ve grown to love it.”
And just as Marian never dreamt of finding love again, the couple then found themselves discussing marriage.
“I had moved in with Harry just before Christmas,” she says. “We were together one evening and found ourselves agreeing to get married. It made sense – why should we wait?”
Sure enough, the Twitchetts married on Valentine’s Day, 2009 and Harry read Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s sonnet, How Do I Love Thee? “And we’re Bee Gees fans, so we played all their music,” she laughs.
“Many times I thought there was no chance of meeting somebody else,” says Marian. “Now I have someone to share my life with.”
Looking for love?
Our Friends of Yours section aims to connect people looking for friendship, or more. visit our online dating service at www.yoursdating.co.uk