I’m excited today as I set off to The Court in Broadway to meet two residents who are busy planning their wedding.

The door opens before I can reach for the bell. ‘I saw you coming’ announces Joy. She has pink cheeks and hazel eyes. She greets me warmly, she is dressed in grey trousers, a powder blue top and a smart cardigan. As I follow she gestures me towards the lounge. ‘Mike’s in there, I’m just going to change my top, I don’t like this one.’ I nod politely. I walk in to find Mike sitting comfortably in his chair. We smile as I sit and we listen to the sound of Joy bustling in the next room. She appears in a vibrant top, it’s glamourous with large purple flowers. It matches her lilac framed glasses and soft eye shadow. She seems more comfortable and I think it suits her much more.                                                                                 

“I lived in Redditch, and I was in a line dancing group called the Deputy Dogs”.

Mike turns towards her in his chair, a gentle smile spreads as he watches Joy speak.

She tells me they met in 2003 when her Line Dancing group did a show in Pershore on Mike’s birthday. “We met again when we did another Line Dance, and apparently,” she looks at Mike with mock disapproval and he chuckles, “he said to one of the fellas ‘I like her’.”

Their romance blossomed quickly and at the end of 2003 Joy moved from Redditch to be with Mike in Broadway.

“Did you click instantly?”

“Well,” starts Joy coyly “when I first saw him I thought hmmmm… I like him. I s’pose you can say it was love at first sight and all that old fashioned stuff.”

When they first spoke, Joy was surprised to find a thick accent “I didn’t know he was Polish,” she says. “He’s the reason I started drinking Vodka” she jokes and they share a cheeky grin together. But mike is still silent. “Can you hear me?” questions Joy.

“He’s not got his hearing aid in” she says to me shaking her head. Joy gets up from her chair and begins to search for Mike’s aid. She fusses around him until she finds it and helps him to put it on.

It hasn’t always been plain sailing for Joy and Mike. The wedding was originally planned for 2008 but after difficult few years, with health, family loss, and bad financial advice they made the sad decision that they couldn’t marry.

All plans were cancelled.

Joy tells me that one night, when they’d settled down together on the sofa they said their own vows, promising their love in the only ceremony they thought they would have.  

Then one day Joy found out that the financial advice they were given was complete rubbish!

Joy knew they could get married.

“I remember when you come in” Mike starts with a sudden energy. His accent has stayed with him over the years and his English is slightly broken. “I was still ready to sleep,”

“He was asleep in bed” Joy helps and they tell the story together.

 “She comes and says ‘News’” Mike waves his arm impersonating Joy throwing open the door

“I leant over him” says Joy “Do you still want to marry me?” she questions her lap as if leaning over a sleeping Mike.

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“Yes! I do!” he exclaims with passion. “I jump straight away.” They tell me that they began to plan again that day and have organised their big day in just 5 weeks.

Both Joy and Mike has been married before and have incredibly different backgrounds. Mike tells me of how when he was 19 he was taken from his home by Russian soldiers in 1939 and was sent to  a Siberian labour camp  before joining a new Polish Army in 1941 and going to Egypt in 1943 to join the British 8th Army

“And whilst he was doing that, I was a babe in arms” laughs Joy nudging Mike.

“Tell her about the mine” she prompts excitedly,

Mike tells me of a time when he and his comrades were working in a mine when it collapsed, trapping the terrified men inside. He recalls having to dig his way to survival.

Joy knows all of Mike’s history as if she’s lived it. She prompts him and reminds him of stories, helping him when he loses his words.

“And he got the Polish equivalent of our Victoria Cross” Joys speaks proudly. “For leading a group through a minefield. He put a white towel on his back and said when I go, the next one needs to take over – he thought he was a gonner.”  

While she speaks, Mike has found something that he holds shyly in his hands.

“Oh go on then, you show her,” allows Joy.

Mike hands me the something delicately as if passing me his most prized possessions. I look and see that they are pictures of them together from various occasions and holidays.

“I don’t like having my picture taken” explains Joy “I’ve always thought I looked heavy”. But it’s obvious that Mike is besotted with her. I hope that in 40 years my husband is that proud of me.

 

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Article by:

Felicity (Flick) Humphrey is a Communications Officer at Rooftop Housing Group