Saying ‘I do’ Down Under

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LOVE conquered all in the end.

Cliff Sweeting and Gill Bainbridge finally married 44 years after they said goodbye to each other on the platform at Hartlepool railway station.

They tied the knot after being reunited in Australia.

Today, Mail2 catches up with the sweethearts who finally said I do.

A few last-minute hitches were not going to get in the way.

After all, a broken air conditioning system was nothing to a couple who had waited four decades to seal their love.

Under an Australian sunset, Cliff and Gill said “I do.”

It followed a day in which friends gathered round to make sure the couple had the day of their dreams.

Cliff said: “Gill had to face the hairdressing, make-up and dress fitting at her house without air conditioning as the fan motor broke in the morning.

“So everyone pitched-in and contributed at least one electric fan to ease her ordeal.

“Gill’s wedding planner, Jenny Sanders, and her matron of honour, Margie Bambridge, took charge of all the details and saw her through it all. Gill told me she was totally relaxed as she walked through the club auditorium to the outdoor venue to be greeted by a veritable football crowd as she stepped outside.

“They all spontaneously applauded, whistled and cheered (well, she did look absolutely stunning, after all).”

Wedding celebrant Norma Matters, from the Whyalla Uniting Church, officiated at the ceremony. Cliff said: “Norma was good enough to give us a template of a re-affirmation ceremony for when we repeat our vows in Hartlepool.”

The music was co-ordinated by more family friends, the Goldings: father Ian and son Ben did a great job. For the ceremony, I’d recorded a selection of soothing Elgar miniatures, followed by Vaughan Williams’ “The Lark Ascending”, to give us 25 minutes of soft, light background music.”

All that was a prelude to the wedding march and Cliff said: “For that, I chose the Prelude to Act 3 of Wagner’s “Lohengrin”, a crashing, triumphant affair of blaring brass and booming percussion.

“Thinking the ceremony would take no more than 15 minutes, I hadn’t counted on the photographers and well-wishers.

“Ben told me that, by the time his father signalled him to cue the wedding march, “The Lark Ascending” had about 15 seconds left to play. The bridal waltz was an old 1960s favourite of ours, “Baby, Now That I’ve Found You”, by The Foundations.”

Cliff praised the Master of Ceremonies Jock Sleep for “holding things together and performing excellently as MC, and the party rocked on till 2am.”

It included a chance to sing Happy Birthday at midnight to the bride whose birthday coincided with her wedding day.

Cliff added: “We left shortly before the end, to spend our wedding night at the bridal suite of the Alexander Motel.”

And now that it is all over?

Cliff is getting ready to move house and join his bride on the other side of Australia.

“I’m back in Darwin now, and planning to move to Whyalla after I sell my house here,” said Cliff. “Gill carries on as before (apart from changing her name on a few lists in town). “The next big project is to organise our Hartlepool ceremony, so we’re keeping in constant touch with our respective families in the town. Facebook is going full-blast on this one.”