Two newly-wed service users from Shinewater Court in Eastbourne look forward to celebrating Valentine’s Day together. Jane and Graham, first met in 2004 at Ernest Kleinwort Court in Burgess Hill, a residential service run by The Disabilities Trust. The couple, who both have severe and multiple physical disabilities, discuss married life and the importance of keeping the romance alive in relationships.

Graham says, “It was love at first sight, I saw Jane and said to my mother “That is the woman I am going to marry!” Soon after, we started dating regularly and would go into town for coffee and once month would go to The Oak Barn for dinner.”

It was on one of these visits that Graham proposed to Jane, who asked him to give her two weeks to think about it. Within two days Jane came back to Graham to say “Yes!” Following an eight year engagement, a number of wedding planning obstacles and issues finding an accessible venue, the pair was married on 21st August 2013 in the beautiful setting of Rowfant House in West Sussex.

Jane says, “Every year we go away for Valentine’s Day and this year we are going to Vitalise Netley Waterside House in Southampton. This is where we had our honeymoon so we have some lovely memories here. I expect Graham will take me for a nice meal on Valentine’s Day and we will spend the rest of the week relaxing.”

Jane reveals she doesn’t have to wait until Valentine’s Day for Graham to be romantic, he regularly surprises her with flowers and the couple still enjoy regular dates. Graham proves he certainly knows the best way to a woman’s heart with Jane commenting, “Since I have been with Graham, I don’t think I have had to buy any new clothes as he is always treating me when we are out shopping.”

Shinewater Court service users posing in their lounge

Jane and Graham, live together in a purpose-built bungalow, in Shinewater Court. The centre provides accommodation and support for people with complex and high dependency needs, giving independence and lifestyle choices for adults with physical disabilities. It forms part of the nationwide network of support services provided by the leading national charity, The Disabilities Trust.

Jane, who recently celebrated 25-years living with The Trust, highlights that their bungalow enables the pair to enjoy “the best of both worlds”. Graham adds, “I hate to think where we would be without The Disabilities Trust, we both view this as our long term home.”

Reflecting on their marriage, Graham who is visually impaired, says, “Jane is my eyes, she guides me, she is the person I will love and cherish for the rest of my life. What I love most about Jane is she is so supportive of me.”

Jane adds, “Marriage has strengthened our relationship and brought us closer together. I love Graham’s calm manner, he is so laid back we joke he is horizontal! Even when something stressful happens, like my health taking a turn for the worst, Graham stays completely calm, which is a great support for me.”

Jane and Graham are supporting the ConnectAbility Campaign - a three year fundraising appeal to raise £250k to purchase life changing assistive communications technology for service users.

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