A romance like a true-life fairy story
Gloria and Ted Gill met on the Saga Rose cruise ship in November 2007 when Gloria was 68 and Ted was 75. It was a holiday that would change their lives for ever.
“My friend, Joan, and I were both widows,” Gloria recalls. “We did a few short breaks together and both of us said we’d like to do a cruise around the world. We put a reserve on a commonwealth cruise in 2009. Joan had cruised before. I mentioned it to my two sons who thought it was a lovely idea but said that perhaps I ought to try it first before going off for four months.”
It turned out to be a wise decision.
“Joan took me into the ballroom and showed me where the singles sat. It was very lovely, a beautiful, beautiful ship.”
Ted told her later that he had seen her on the dance floor as soon as he walked into the ballroom.
“He was a gold medal dancer and he said to himself ‘wow, she can dance’,” Gloria recalls.
“After a few minutes, he asked me for a dance. We got chatting and he said, ‘You’re from Bristol’. I asked him how he knew, and he said that’s where his late wife came from. He was from Milton Keynes and I said, ‘That’s where the concrete cows are,’ and we laughed. We had quite a few dances after that.”
When the holiday was over, Gloria and Ted exchanged telephone numbers.
“When I got home to Bristol, I had only been there ten minutes when the phone rang. It was Ted. He said he was there with his diary and asked when could he come to Bristol. After that, we met most weekends.”
Gloria says that she and Ted, former chief engineer with British Coal Products, ‘just clicked’ on the cruise.
“We met on the Thursday and then the following Monday we went to a little island called La Palma. We walked together and it was then that we knew that there was something special between us.”
In 2009, Gloria and her friend embarked on their World Commonwealth Cruise.
“Ted and I emailed each other every day when we could. My friend and I arrived in Sydney and had the most terrific welcome. We docked between the opera house and the bridge. It was wonderful. I went into the deck restaurant for breakfast and who should come through the double doors but Ted. He said he’d flown out to Sydney and was joining me to Singapore. He was on the cruise with me for three weeks. He told me he’d put his house on the market and was moving to Bristol.”
In 2011, Gloria and Ted were married. They continued to travel around the world, enjoying three to four holidays a year. For her 70th birthday, Gloria and Ted went white water rafting in Wales.
“His family said I brought Ted out of himself. For me, the more exciting something is, the better.”
In December 2016, Ted was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He spent the last year of his life in a wheelchair but still enjoyed holidays to France and Spain with Gloria. Sadly, Ted died in November.
“He was my life and my love,” Gloria says. “I know I will never meet anyone like him again. He was the most beautiful dancer to dance with, a proper gentleman. You couldn’t help falling in love with him.
“At the beginning, we said if we had ten years together at our ages, we were lucky. Well, we had 11 and I look on that last year as a bonus.”
Before going on the cruise, one of Gloria’s friends warned her to be careful in case she met someone.
“I saw her about three days after I got back and she knew the minute she saw me that I had. One of my sons asked who the chap was that kept popping up in all my photos. I said he was a really nice guy from Milton Keynes. When Ted got home he showed everyone the photos and said, ‘this is the lady I’m going to marry.”
Gloria’s advice to anyone finding love on holiday is to ‘just go for it’.
“Life is too short not to. Ted and I had both lost our partners but we knew we still had plenty of life in us. My only regret is waiting so long to get married. Happiness can be short lived. Life is so precious.”
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Retired headteacher Annette France, 66, describes her relationship with her partner, Stephen, 69, a former commercial banker, as ‘together-apart’. She lives in Worcestershire and he has a house in Yorkshire.
Both divorcees, neither of them wants to remarry, nor move in with one another.
“We do a lot of travelling together,” she says. “He took me to Paris for my birthday in April last year and we went to Mallorca in October. In between times we are usually seeing each other every couple of weeks. It is the perfect 'together-apart' relationship.”
The couple met in January 2017.
“I’d been on holiday on my own before but only for two weeks and I had booked a month in Madeira. My initial anxieties at the airport increased when, as I checked all the Saga labels on bags, everyone seemed to be part of a couple.
“One lovely lady shared the taxi with me to the Monte Mar Hotel and we agreed to meet for lunch and by dinner, we had teamed up with three other interesting women.
“The first few days were taken up with trips and walks that the rep organised. After dinner we enjoyed drinks and the entertainment, and our group was often swelled with other single men and couples who had got to know each other.”
One of the men who had joined the group for drinks introduced himself to her and, from that moment, they spent a great deal of time together.
“I always ate my meals with my funny and interesting women friends and we both had time apart as well as together,” Annette says.
“I wasn’t looking for romance at all. The reason I went to Madeira was because the year before I’d had a mild brush with cancer and a hysterectomy. It was a sort of a wake-up call for me to do all the things I’ve been wanting to do.
“I thought it might be the kind of holiday romance that the 20-somethings seem to take for granted, but after we returned to the UK, I drove to his home in Yorkshire, and he visited my home in Worcestershire.
“We spent a week in Scotland in the April and we both had other holidays already booked: he to Spain again and me to Venice with university friends and to South Africa, but we booked with Saga for Rhodes in October, and then Egypt for a month in January 2018.”
Annette says family and friends are very happy with her relationship.
“They think good luck to me,” she says. “It was so unexpected. Stephen is the kindest person I know. He’s extraordinarily lovely.”
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An unexpected romance
David Brodie and Ann Munro met on holiday in Albir, Spain, in 2015.
“I wasn’t actually looking for a holiday romance. I was totally content in my bachelorhood,” says retired businessman David, 75. He had been married three times before and was living in a flat in East London when they met.
“But I noticed her - she’s a good-looking lady.”
Former teacher Ann, from Surrey, had been married for 37 years before her husband died of cancer in 2003. On retirement she worked part-time in her local hospital, firstly in the cancer centre and then as a bereavement officer.
She says he was ‘unimpressed’ with David when she first met him.
“At the gala dinner he and his friend were seated at our table and my heart sank. However, he was great fun and very witty, so my opinion changed.
“David and I got on very well. We talked and laughed a lot together and decided we would meet up on our return to England. We met alternate weekends and met each other’s family. We’ve subsequently spent a number of holidays together including trips to Cyprus, Italy, USA and Australia.
“In August 2017 David moved in with me. It was lovely to be part of a couple again, so we got married in July last year. We had a wonderful afternoon-tea wedding. Many of our guests commented on what a happy occasion it was.”
“The happiest of days,” agrees David.
For their honeymoon, Ann and David went back to the hotel in Albir where they first met.
So how did their friends and family react to their romance?
Ann says her older sister was initially quite concerned but now thinks David is wonderful. David’s three sons and friends describe Ann as ‘an absolute gem’.
“I’m very lucky,” he says. “Everyone has fallen in love with her.”
Says Ann: “David is just great fun, a good conversationalist and makes me laugh all the time. He’s a very easy-going person and doesn’t get bad tempered. He’s always fun to be with.”
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And it’s not just romance that people find on holiday, but meaningful, platonic connections too. Jan and Steve Richardson met a couple on their way to a Danube river cruise five years ago. They’re still really good friends.
“We were sitting at the airport waiting for a connecting flight to Vienna,” says Jan. “An announcement came over the speaker and it was a bit muffled so Steve asked the lady sitting next to him whether she’d caught what was being said.”
It turned out that Sue Linkin and her husband, John, were on their way to the same cruise. They ended up having a drink together in the airport and then, when they arrived on the boat, discovered their cabins were opposite one another.
“We got on pretty well so we asked if we could sit together at dinner,” Jan says.
It turned out the two couples had a lot in common - not least that they live just three hundred yards apart in Folkestone.
Says Jan: “We decided to meet up once we got back and we now see each other once a month. We’re really good friends.”
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