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BGT Belfast couple go from agony to ecstasy as David Walliams presses golden buzzer

By Chris McCullough

Published 25/04/2016

Anne and Ian Marshall on Britain’s Got Talent, and (above) the couple in their younger days
Anne and Ian Marshall on Britain’s Got Talent, and (above) the couple in their younger days
Anne and Ian Marshall in their younger days

Britain's Got Talent contestant Ian Marshall has opened his heart about his tragic youth after making it through to the live shows.

Ian and wife Anne now have an automatic place after judge David Walliams was enthralled by the Belfast couple's rendition of Beyonce's Crazy In Love, and made them the third Golden Buzzer act.

Fellow judges Simon Cowell, Alesha Dixon and Amanda Holden were also impressed with the couple's unconventional performance.

The stakes are high as the 2016 winner will receive a prize of £250,000 and a slot in the Royal Variety Performance.

But Ian's prospects weren't always as bright after he endured a tough start to life. The 64-year-old revealed how he ran away from home at the age of 14 and was later raped by two men in their 40s, who he thought were offering him a bed for the night.

He began sleeping on the streets of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, before joining the Army, a move he says saved his life.

Ian said: "I had no life before I joined the Army. I was the oldest of seven children and I was beaten really badly by my father, who was a bare knuckle fighter.

"I was working for his coal business by the age of seven, but when I was 14 I left home.

"I used to sit in a cafe shivering and I was so cold I couldn't get any heat into my body at all. No one once asked me if I'd like a cup of tea or a bowl of soup.

"One night a man in his 40s offered me a room to sleep in. I was raped by him and by another man. I was so naïve, I didn't even know that men could be gay.

"I didn't go to the police because I didn't want my mum and dad to find me. I was stuck between a rock and a hard place.

"Children are so innocent and my heart bleeds for anyone else who has been through this. It haunts you. I tried suicide a few times but then I joined the Army and that saved me because I saw the world and met Anne.

"No matter what happens in your life, you should never give up, even in your darkest hour you have to keep going."

Anne was working in the Women's Royal Army Corps when she met Ian. He took her out the next day and even got her name tattooed on his arm to prove his devotion.

Anne (61) said: "He was lovely looking but my friends told me he was a bit of a ladies man.

"Then we shared a lovely kiss and I knew he was the one for me. I had to write home for permission to get married because I was only 17."

The couple wed just nine days after meeting and have been together for 44 years.

However, Anne became seriously ill in 2010 with a bowel complaint and was unable to work, forcing the couple to sell their Belfast home, and Ian gave up his floristry business to look after her.

Ian added: "We're probably too old for megastardom but we'd like to perform on cruise ships. We're living the dream on Britain's Got Talent, but we want to have something to leave to our children."

Belfast Telegraph

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