I married my best friend's DAD! SHE IGNORES A 37-YEAR AGE GAP TO FALL FOR OLD HIPPY.
HIS whiskers had gone grey, his long hair wispy. But old hippy Pete Perry still had that twinkle in his eye... as his daughter's best friend discovered.
The moment Nikki Heydon met him, she remembers, she went weak at the knees. So did Pete. And it wasn't his rheumatism.
To the amazement of friends, and worried looks from relatives, they fell in love across an age gap of 37 years. Pete was 72 and wore his best white kaftan when they married. Nikki was 35 and instantly became a step-greatgrandmother.
"No one seriously thought we would ever get married," she says. "Now they're thrilled for us. I never saw Pete as an old age pensioner. He's a lovely, genuine, caring man. That's what matters. Age was never an issue."
Nikki says it was a fairytale wedding as her dad, nine years younger than the groom, walked her down the aisle.
They met after Nikki's first marriage broke up and her best friend Deb took her to meet her dad, because he was a great listener. "I was just expecting a friendly chat when I first went to see Pete so it took me completely by surprise when he gave me a giant cuddle," says Nikki. "I felt there was this chemistry between us right away."
They discovered they both liked music, anything from The Beatles to Lily Allen, and began going to gigs.
Nikki confided in Pete about her ambitions to be a nurse. He in turn told her about his six children, 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. "Each time I saw him my feelings grew stronger but I didn't know if Pete felt the same way as me," says Nikki. "Then one day as I went to leave I leaned in to give him a peck on the cheek. But he turned his head and gave me a right smacker on the lips. I told him that it was a bit cheeky and he replied 'I know' with a huge grin on his face."
Pete's first wife, the mother of his children, died in 1967 and although he married again it ended in divorce.
Deb was furious when she found out how close Pete and Nikki had become and accused her dad and best friend of betraying her.
Nikki says: "It was really hurtful but I could understand why she was so angry. The news spread to the rest of Pete's family and they were all completely shocked as well. I realised I had to tell my parents and took along a picture of Pete with me to make it easier. When I showed it to my mum and dad there was stunned silence."
But as time passed both Pete and Nikki's family grew to accept the relationship, with Deb pleased that her her dad had found happiness again.
And when Pete suffered a heart attack and almost died both realised they should not waste any more time. Pete went down on one knee to propose... and managed to get up again.
More than 150 attended the wedding near their home town of Stevenage, Herts, with Spiderman, Dr Evil and Beauty and the Beast putting in an appearance as many of Pete's old friends turned up in fancy dress.
Nikki says: "I felt like the luckiest woman alive and so happy to see all our friends and family together, finally accepting us as a couple."
As for Pete's speech at the reception, he kept it brief.
He told his new in-laws: "Look at it this way, you've not so much lost a daughter as gained a pensioner."
Nikki & Pete go to gigs together Pete's daughter Deb (left) with Nikki Nikki and Pete cut their wedding cake So happy together... Nikki and her old hippy husband Pete