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Loved-up Belfast couple Margaret and Stephen defy cancer and COPD to finally tie knot after 30 years together


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Margaret (69) & Stephen (59)

Margaret (69) & Stephen (59)

Margaret (69) & Stephen (59)

Tears of joy were shed at Belfast City Hall on Friday when a couple who have been together for 30 years got married.

East Belfast newlyweds Margaret McDowell (69) and Stephen Scott (59) pledged their love for each other surrounded by their three daughters, 10 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

The couple, who both have life-limiting conditions, were due to celebrate their marriage with 100 guests on their 30th anniversary together on June 21.

However, lockdown regulations meant their big day had to be cancelled, but their families quickly stepped in to ensure their dream of finally becoming man and wife could be realised.

The couple, who have been inseparable since meeting three decades ago, were emotional as they got to fulfil their dream in front of 30 delighted members of their families.

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The wedding of Margaret McDowell and Stephen Scott at Belfast City Hall.

The wedding of Margaret McDowell and Stephen Scott at Belfast City Hall.

The wedding of Margaret McDowell and Stephen Scott at Belfast City Hall.

Granddaughter Amy Wightman (31) said: "They have had an amazing life together and the family is completely over the moon that they had such a wonderful day."

Stephen proposed to Margaret a year after they met in 1990, but neither expected then that their engagement would last 29 years.

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Sisters Jacqueline Watson, Roberta McKergan and Anne Brown sisters with Margaret McDowell and Stephen Scott at Belfast City Hall.

Sisters Jacqueline Watson, Roberta McKergan and Anne Brown sisters with Margaret McDowell and Stephen Scott at Belfast City Hall.

Sisters Jacqueline Watson, Roberta McKergan and Anne Brown sisters with Margaret McDowell and Stephen Scott at Belfast City Hall.

The wedding was all the more special because both Margaret and Stephen have been shielding during the pandemic and were only able to see their families through a window.

Margaret has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart failure and relies on oxygen 24 hours a day.

Stephen is battling terminal cancer and had spent a few days in a hospice prior to getting married.

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The wedding of Margaret McDowell and Stephen Scott at Belfast City Hall.

The wedding of Margaret McDowell and Stephen Scott at Belfast City Hall.

The wedding of Margaret McDowell and Stephen Scott at Belfast City Hall.

Amy said her grandmother's first marriage broke up when her three girls were very young, which held her back from marrying true love Stephen for many years.

"Granny always said she had been there and done that and it didn't work. They always made a joke that she had picked up a toyboy because Granda is 10 years younger than her," she added.

"My mum Alison and aunts Pamela and Karen were very young when their parents' marriage broke up, and when Granny met Granda there were three very young grandchildren. He has always been our grandad and we don't think of him in any other way."

The families all live close together in east Belfast and not a day would pass without someone visiting the couple.

However, because of their health the couple were forced to shield during lockdown, with only their main carer Pamela allowed to visit.

"They live in a ground-floor flat, so the rest of us had to talk to them through the window during lockdown, which was hard," Amy said.

"They really missed their great-grandchildren. When we were all able to visit recently for the first time again, it was just amazing.

"We also had a number of cousins at the wedding who they had not seen in months."

Instead of 100 guests as planned, the couple celebrated with 30 members of their family.

After a meal in Belfast's Ten Square, they enjoyed a socially distanced party in a family member's garden.

"We have wanted this for 29 years but there was always something popping up - another wedding or a grandchild being born," Margaret and Stephen said in a statement.

"We are so happy to be able to do this now and would like to thank all of our family and friends who came together to make it happen."

Belfast Telegraph