It’s never too late to find love.
That’s the message from one couple who are celebrating St Valentine’s Day together after finding romance in their twilight years.
It was love at first sight for Reg and Maureen Cowling when they sat next to each other at Kensington Court in Holdforth Road, Hartlepool, after Reg moved in to the Anchor Housing accommodation on February 15 last year.
Now the couple are married and living together in one of the organisation’s flats for two at Derwent Grange, where they enjoy their days completing jigsaw puzzles, indulging in listening to their favourite music - including Maureen’s favourite Elvis Presley - and gardening together, as well as taking trips out most days.
Father-of-four Reg, 77, has been widowed three times before after each of his wives were claimed by illness, settling in the town after living in a host of towns across the country after first coming to the UK in the 1960s from Whanganui in the north of New Zealand.
For Maureen, 68, it was her identical sister Pauline who brought her to Hartlepool as she moved to be close to her.
I would say to others you’ve got to broaden your horizons, you can’t just wait for it to come along.Reg Cowling
After a whirlwind seven months of courting and a June engagement, the couple said ‘I do’ at the civic centre’s registry office before celebrating with friends and family at the Stag and Monkey, where staff had gone the extra mile to decorate an area just for them, before honeymooning in Blackpool.
Reg, who is clear of cancer after being told he had three weeks to live nine years ago after an aggressive form of the disease affected his kidneys, said: “Life is so short.
“It’s never too late, that’s what I would tell people.
“I knew she was the one for me when I sat next to her that first time.
“I knew it, as we sat and had our cup of tea.
“When we got married on September 8, I saw her in her dress and I had tears in my eyes.
“I couldn’t speak, it was so emotional.
“I would say to others you’ve got to broaden your horizons, you can’t just wait for it to come along.”
The couple keep the romance alive with regular gifts and gestures and ensure the task of keeping their flat clean and tidy is shared.
Maureen, who is also a keen crafter, added: “When we married I was so happy. “We just work together and so everything together. “We laugh and smile and in an evening we do a puzzle and we get some vinyl on.
“We’re a team really.”
The Cowlings were offered a move by Anchor as each had a single flat in Kensington Court, while Derwent Grange offers homes for two.
Chris Wood, team manager for the company who looks after five of its nine sheltered accommodation complexes in the town, said: “They’re a really nice couple.
“It was important for them to be together and we were happy to help.”