Love flourishes for Andrew and Sylvia Aitken after loss of partners - thanks to a bus
Their story has involved heartache, loss, mutual support, and a bus that holds a special place in their hearts.
And now Sylvia, 70, and Andy Aitken, 72, have got married, proving that love can flourish even in the midst of grief.
The couple first met in 2015 on visits to Priscilla Bacon Lodge in Norwich, where their partners, both suffering from cancer, were receiving palliative care.
Sylvia would catch the No.8 Konectbus into the city from her home in Dereham and Andy came in from North Walsham.
Andy had been married to Carole Sheppard for 31 years and Sylvia was married to Maurice Kempin, known as Mo, for 36 years.
Andy said: “During the quiet time after lunch, like many others have done, we separately ate our own lunch in the hospice cafe. On one occasion, Sylvia, myself and Carole’s mum were the only people there, and so we started talking about our circumstances.
“Back then, of course, we were committed to our former partners and trying help each other through that dark time.”
Carole passed away in January 2016 and Mo died in February.
Through their grief, Andy and Sylvia agreed to keep in touch and Sylvia continued taking the No.8 into Norwich to meet Andy for coffee and a chat.
Andy said: “Over time we discovered we had a lot in common and we started meeting more frequently. We looked forward more and more to being with each other and soon our friendship grew into love.”
Andy proposed on the beach at Old Hunstanton in November last year, and they got married at the Dereham Registry Office on May 5, followed by a reception at Barnham Broom. And on the day, they raised more than £800 for Priscilla Bacon Lodge in gratitude for the excellent care their former partners received there. Their wedding cake was topped with a miniature version of the bus that helped bring them together.
Andy said: “If it hadn’t been for the bus it would have been more difficult for Sylvia to get into Norwich and our lives might have taken a different direction.
“We still talk about Carole and Mo, and they are in our new lives with us and will never be forgotten, but we are now looking forwards to a new chapter in our lives one of hope, happiness and love.”