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We fell for each other as men & will marry as women; NHS sex swap pair to walk down aisle.

Byline: MARTIN FRICKER

A DEVOTED couple who met as men will walk down the aisle together as brides after they both had sex change operations.

Parma Bertoli, 59, and her partner Stephanie Nickles, 43, started a relationship when they first met as men in 2004.

After separating, they got back together again two years later.

Stephanie had been given an NHSfunded full sex change and Parma had the same procedure two years after that.

Now they are now preparing to exchange vows. But as they look forward to the ceremony they know it will be tinged with sadness as Parma is suffering from a brain tumour and has just months to live.

Stephanie recalls: "Parma and I hit it off immediately when we first met. We both loved military history.

"We split up after a third party got involved. I didn't even see Parma again for a couple of years until we bumped into each by chance.

"I had gone through the sex change operation and was in London for counselling when I saw Parma waiting in the clinic.

"Our eyes met and when I asked her what she was doing there, it turned out she was in pre-op and living as a full-time woman.

"She took me for a coffee and we talked until midnight. We realised then that it was love and we moved in with each other very soon after that. We have been inseparable ever since."

Stephanie, who was born John Hart and has two grown-up children, described the moment they got engaged in 2009.

"We were in a jewellers browsing for commitment rings," she said. "When I turned round, Parma was down on one knee. She popped the question and I said yes. The staff in the shop clapped - it was a wonderful moment."

The couple, of Warndon, Worcs, were forced to bring their big day forward after doctors diagnosed Parma, a former meat hygiene inspector last October as having a glioblastoma multiforme. Stephanie, who gave up her modelling career to care for Parma, said: "To get married would be such a huge thing for us and would make our lives whole in a way.

"We want to get married because we love each other and we are not sure if Parma will be here next year. But we have not got the funds and we don't even have the money to buy wedding rings."

Parma added: "My fiancee has always wanted a special occasion and we are really bringing it forward because my situation is quite bad. I am very lucky to have got this far through the support of my partner.

"I know I have a very limited amount of time left but it would mean the world to both of us to get married - it would be absolutely brilliant."

martin.fricker@mirror.co.uk

"We went for a coffee and talked until midnight. We knew it was love STEPHANIE NICKLES ON FIRST MEETING WITH PARMA

CAPTION(S):

BIG DAY Stephanie and Parma, left, who met when they were men

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 8, 2015
Words:507
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