A PAIR of lovebirds will tie the knot on Valentine’s Day after a real-life cupid’s arrow picked the big day for them.
Leiza Bates and John Mahoney have been together for seven-and-a-half years after a chance meeting in a Hartlepool pub saw them immediately fall in love.
The inseparable duo say it was love at first sight and just three months after they met in the Headland’s New Inn and shared a cigarette together outside, 39-year-old John popped the question to Leiza, 37, in November 2006.
But due to personal circumstances the couple were unable to set a date to marry until the start of this year, when John asked Leiza when they were going to tie the knot.
And as they could not come up with a date they both agreed on, they decided to put a calendar on a dartboard and let random throw make their choice.
To their utter surprise and delight, the dart landed on February 14, the most romantic day of the year.
So they have set their big day for this Friday at 1pm at Hartlepool Register Office, with a reception at The Harbour of Refuge pub, on the Headland, afterwards.
Leiza, who suffers with a twisted spine and has two sons aged 19 and 16 from a previous relationship, said: “I can’t wait. The days are counting down so quick.
“I’m nervous and excited, it’s like being a kid again.
“The past seven years have been like a dream come true.
“John is my soul mate and I knew from the second I saw him that he was the one for me. I knew I’d marry him and that we’d be together forever.”
The former hairdresser, from the West View area of Hartlepool, said: “On the night we met neither of us had planned to go out. We’d both just come out of relationships and were in really low places.
“My kids were saying ‘get yourself out, mam’, so I did. John had to give something to a friend in the pub and then I saw him. We went outside for a cigarette, I got talking to him, and that was that. He asked to buy me a drink and we just sat talking all night.”
In their time together, Leiza has suffered heartbreak, however, with the loss of both parents to cancer – dad Martin passed away three years ago aged 66, while her mum, Liz, died last year aged 67.
Wheelchair-bound Leiza, who is cared for by dad-of-three John, a former cleaner, said: “I can’t wait for our big day. It’s just unfortunate that my mam and dad won’t be there.”
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