Lockdown love has blossomed for a pair of Tayside pensioners now planning their post-pandemic wedding day in the setting where they first met.
After a whirlwind romance, Ann Marshall, 72, and 82-year-old Jim Balneaves will make history by becoming the first couple to wed in the Carse of Gowrie church centre which helped bring them together.
The widowers have August 14 as the date for their ceremony at the Madoch Centre in St Madoes, the village to which Worcester-born Ann moved last year to be close to her son.
Ann first saw Jim at the centre, where he looks after the planters and their friendship grew.
She said: “My son, Dorian and his wife, Yvonne volunteer at the centre so I started helping there too and there was a bus trip for retired people which I went on.
“A couple of rows in front of me sat Jim, so we chatted a bit and I suppose that was when it all began.”
Church minister Marc Bircham unwittingly played matchmaker when Ann revealed her interest in a Glencarse classical concert to which Jim was also going and he suggested they could share transport, before a crash on the busy A90 helped put them firmly on the road to romance.
“That was the night the bridge was hit by a crane and we didn’t actually get to the concert. We came back to my house for a cup of tea, got chatting a bit more and it has sort of gone on from there.
“We did manage to go on a coach trip together just before lockdown but then we thought we weren’t going to be able to see each other so we decided to move in together.
“I don’t quite know how the word marriage came up, but I said to Jim that he’d never asked me and so he did!
“It’s not something either of us expected, but we’re so happy and looking forward to August.”
Ann said they managed to book the earliest available date for their wedding ceremony.
Dundonian Jim, who spent most of his working career with city firm Bonar Long, said walks around St Madoes are now taking a little longer after the news of their upcoming nuptials emerged.
“Word that we were seeing each other went round the village pretty quickly and the whole community spirit has definitely risen during lockdown anyway.
“Everyone chats now and there have been lots of congratulations.”
The couple have both praised the Madoch Centre’s community role during the coronavirus crisis, helping to deliver thousands of meals to Carse residents.
“We will be the first wedding in the centre, which will be very special because what it has done during this situation has been amazing and it is the place where we first met,” said Ann.
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