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'I gave up on love after losing two husbands'.

SYLVIA Davies had given up on finding love again after being bereaved twice.

But the 65-year-old widow met someone when she reluctantly joined a support group and realised she was not alone.

Sylvia met Paul Beard on her first visit to a bereavement support coffee morning hosted by Welsh cancer charity Tenovus and Marie Curie at the Village Hotel in Whitchurch in June 2007.

Paul, a 70-year-old widower, had been attending every month since joining shortly after his wife of 43 years, Joan, died in 2006.

"He overheard me saying where I lived and it turned out not only did he have a good friend on my street but he'd gone to school with my sister," said Sylvia.

As it happened, the pair had grown up just streets away from each other in Whitchurch after both being born in nearby Birchgrove.

But it took a year for their friendship to become anything more than supportive chats at the coffee group.

"It was a gradual thing," said Sylvia.

"We realised we missed each other and meeting up every month didn't see menough-so Paul started having coffee at my house too and by March last year we were going out."

Sylvia's first husband Raymond died of leukaemia in 1987 and she lost her partner of 20 years Colin to prostate cancer in 2007.

"Paul and I were able to talk to each other about it," she said, adding their union came as a complete surprise.

"Neither of us were looking for love.

"We had no intention of meeting someone-it was the last thing on my mind."

And Paul admits he wasted no time making their relationship more formal - proposing to Sylvia on Christmas Day just months after they began dating.

"I thought there was no point in hanging around!" He said.

The couple, who still attend the group to support other members, are now planning a May wedding in front of family at Manor Parc Hotel in Thornhill before Paul moves into Sylvia's home in Whitchurch.

Sylvia, a mother-of-two with six grandchildren and another due in July, said: "I said I'dgone through it twice and I would never go through it again-Iwas settled toalife onmy own."

Paul added: "Going to the group wasn't normally the sort of thing I would have bothered with-I'm glad I did.

"I'm suddenly becoming a step-father - to go from having no children to getting a family as well at 70 is something."

The couple are now looking forward to two weeks on honeymoon in Menorca - returning to the same place where they enjoyed their first holiday together.

"We're an example of life carrying on," said Paul.

"It goes to show you're never too old."

The bereavement support group meets the first Saturday of every month at the Village Hotel, in Whitchurch, Cardiff, and is free.

Contact 0800 808 1010 for details.


PICTURE: Andrew Davies
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 26, 2009
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