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Byline: SUE LEE

WITH love in the air and Valentine's Day fast approaching, St Johns Centre put out a search for lovedup couples who found their perfect match there.

Clubs like Rotters, the Top Rank Suite and The Moonstone all turned out to be hot-spots for romance, along with some of the centre's best-known shops.

| To The winner, chosen by a public vote, will go on a special Valentine's date night, so here are three of the lasting Liverpool love stories which began at St Johns.

stories for your go to MARJIE KONTZLE and her husband, Russell, have two St Johns venues to thank for their 44-year relationship - and one even accidentally played a part in their wedding day!

The couple did their courting most weekends at The Moonstone and were also regulars at the Top Rank Suite.

In fact, 61-year- old Marjie, from Walton, had her hen party at the Top Rank which left an unexpected memento.

"On my hen do, I was wearing high heels and I fell down the escalator coming out," she laughs. "We'd had a few to drink but that wasn't to blame, one heel got caught in the escalator and I just went flying. I still made it to the wedding just with very bruised knees!" Marjie met Russell in their local pub, but it was The Moonstone dates which sealed their romance. "Our song was Day After Day, by Badfinger," she recalls. "The Moonstone was one of our regular haunts. We'd go together and then meet a crowd of friends in there, mainly ones Russell used to work with at Vauxhall."

Russell, now 67 and retired, and Marjie got married at Walton Church when she was 18. They have two children, Vicky, 41, and Jay 40, three grandchildren and another on the way.

"I can still remember The Moonstone clearly - you went downstairs, through this round green doorway which made you feel like you were going into something weird and wonderful, and I think to us it was. They were very happy days."

HELEN ROBERTS had her heart set on a hamster when she went shopping to City Pets in 1993. But she not only discovered she had a rival for Fluffy's affections she ended up marrying her competition!

"I spotted this little hamster that was gorgeous so I really wanted it," recalls Helen, 42. "I was looking at it when this lad came up and said he wanted it, too. We were arguing over who was getting this hamster when he said 'if you give me your number, I'll let you have the hamster!' I was a bit taken aback but I really wanted that hamster so I gave him it.

"We had our first date at McDonalds and he made me laugh like no-one had ever made me laugh before."

Helen, from Croxteth, was 17 and thought Chris was the same age. It was only when she got pregnant a year later she found out he was actually 18 months younger. "Everyone said 'they won't make it, they're only kids' but we've been together 25 years now," adds Helen.

Chris proposed as they moved into their first house in Anfield - he hid the ring in a microwave from Argos! - and on Valentine's Day, 1998, they were married. Twenty years later, they have three children, Conor, 23, Callum, 20, and Rosenna, 18.

Sadly, Fluffy died after seven months, but Helen and Chris's relationship is going strong.

"And he still makes me laugh like he did on our first date," says Helen.

DEBBIE KEAY'S dad gave her strict orders not to invite "any of them bikers" to her 18 th birthday party at her house.

"He told me he'd make a show of me if I did," laughs Debbie, "but I invited Dave anyway and dad loved him."

It was the start of romance for the couple who've now been married 37 years and have three grown-up sons.

And it all started when their eyes met across a crowded Moonstone: "I used to go to Times a week with my friends. It was the days when you could go out with a fiver and that'd get you into the club, buy you a couple of drinks and still have enough for the chippy on the way home.

"I saw Dave but, for weeks, we just stared at each other across the dancefloor - although we'd pass the time of day when Smoke on the Water Came on and everybody got up!

"He was gorgeous, so I that was it. We got engaged four months later and, 12 months after that, I got pregnant with our eldest, Nick."

Debbie, from Walton, adds: "We got married at Brougham Terrace in the May - and I had Nick in September.

"I love him. Dave's my best friend and we still laugh together - although these days when we're lying in bed laughing at stupid things our youngest, Daniel, bangs on the wall and tells us to 'Shut up'."

Liverpool love stories and vote your favourite, go to St Johns Facebook page.


The Moonstone worked its magic on Marjie and Russell

Debbie and Dave found love at The Moonstone

Many couples found romance at The Moonstone

The St John's Centre, with City Pets, where a hamster brought one couple together
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Feb 7, 2018
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