Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland pensioners who waltzed into each other's lives now plan to walk down the aisle

Barry Moore and Josephine Brown, from Newtownabbey, who have just got engaged, with Ollie the dog.
Barry Moore and Josephine Brown, from Newtownabbey, who have just got engaged, with Ollie the dog.
Barry Moore and Josephine Brown, from Newtownabbey
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

After a chance meeting at a waltz in Newtownabbey, two pensioners in their 80s have spoken of their joy at their upcoming nuptials.

Josephine Brown, who celebrates her 82nd birthday today, said it was love at first sight when she met Barry Moore (82) last July during a dance at the Newtownabbey British Legion.

"He asked one of my friends to dance and she said, 'No I don't dance but my friend does'," Josephine told the Belfast Telegraph.

"So he basically waltzed into my life. We never imagined it would lead to marriage."

Both had been married for over 50 years before, with each caring for their partners during their final years.

"Barry's wife Pat had passed away about seven months when we met and my husband was dead for around nine years after having Parkinson's and Alzheimer's," said Josephine.

She said even though she had remained active, loneliness had become difficult over the years.

"I have a lot of friends who I would have met up with for coffees during the day, but I still went home at night and you were on your own," she said.

"I have a little dog Ollie and the two of us just sat and watched television."

After sparks flew on the dance floor, both Josephine and Barry wasted no time on their second meeting.

"He asked for my phone number and I said I'd think about it," she said.

"He then asked another friend what my name and number was, but I had already folded it up and put it in my handbag because I didn't want my girlfriends to see me.

"He shook hands with me and I passed it on.

"So we've been together ever since. I think the dancing attracted us both as we were both ballroom dancers."

Barry, who is originally from Exminster in Devon, said: "I never imagined I'd be getting married again at this time in my life.

"The first time I met her I saw she was a good dancer but that was all. By the second time I realised she would be good company even though I didn't know her name."

A successful first date at Belfast Castle soon followed.

"I hadn't been on a date since my husband died," said Josephine.

"It was wonderful, we got on so well together and had so much in common. Now I go bowling with him and we go to the same church.

"We just connected, it was fantastic. Kind of love at first sight."

The only hurdle, she said, was getting her beloved dog Ollie to make space on her sofa for Barry.

"It's taken Ollie a long time to accept Barry into our lives. If we sit together he's wanting in between us and he puts his paw on my leg to say 'she's mine'."

Barry added: "I think we have the same type of humour and we're always pulling each other's leg.

"She's nice to be with and is always talking, it's delightful to be with her and that's it.

"We have so much in common and so much to talk about. When you've both been married for over 50 years there's so many little stories you can tell each other.

"There's so much to chat about and everything's so sweet at the moment."

Josephine said she was caught by surprise when Barry popped the question during a shopping trip to the Abbey Centre last month.

"We were walking around and Barry said, 'There's a jeweller's over there, do you want to go over and have a wee look?'

"Then he said, 'You want to look at the ring?'

"I asked, 'Are you proposing to me,' and he replied, 'Well if you think I'm getting down on my knee in the Abbey Centre you're mistaken.'

"I said, 'Well I'd only have to help you up anyway.'

"So that was the proposal, if you could call it that! But I got my ring and I'm delighted with it and I've ordered the wedding ring to match it."

Barry said the response from their family and friends had been "fantastic".

"We certainly caught people by surprise. Her granddaughters were surprised and delighted the most," he said.

The couple hope to have their big day at their church in Newtownabbey by January followed with a celebration in the British Legion where they first met.

"Oh my goodness, everybody has been so thrilled and all the texts are coming in. It's been fantastic and I can't believe what's happening for us," Josephine said. "It's absolutely wonderful for us."

The happy couple have said they are now determined to enjoy every moment.

"I was actually at the funeral of a good friend this morning, a lady who was born the same year as me," said Josephine.

"So as I was leaving the church I thought, 'I'm so lucky, but I don't know how long we have at 82'.

"It really is about living in the moment. We go to the bowls, we go dancing twice a week and shopping together. So togetherness is what it's all about."

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