A FRIENDSHIP club brought this widow and widower together — but trouble in the bedroom nearly tore them apart…
Doreen Oliver, aged 72, met 69-year-old Neville Jones at The A59 Club, which caters for divorcees, singles, widows and widowers over 50.
After years of grieving, she found herself falling in love again, but Neville’s eardrum-splitting snoring brought the relationship to the brink of collapse.
Now, Neville has undergone a minor operation at The Private Clinic in Manchester to “cure” his snoring — and Doreen was happy to accept his Christmas Day marriage proposal, safe in the knowledge there will be no more noisy, sleepless nights.
It’s now five years since Doreen, a retired cook supervisor from St Peter’s Primary School in Salesbury, found herself devastated by the unexpected death of her husband Edward following perforated appendicitis and septicimia.
“It was a massive shock when I lost my husband and it took me about three years to go out,” she said.
“I couldn’t stop crying and just stayed in the house.
“Then I just met some people and they said: ‘Why don’t you join The A59 Club?’”
By this time, Doreen’s 99-year-old mother had also died, so the mother-of-three, grandmother-of-10 and great grandmother of one lived alone at her late mum’s bungalow in Langho.
The A59 Club meets weekly at The Bonny Inn in Clayton-le-Dale, and organises social events ranging from trips to meals out to walks all around Lancashire.
“They made me feel very welcome and I’ve never looked back since, it’s fabulous,” said Doreen.
Retired sheet metal worker Neville, a father of two, was also persuaded by friends to join The A59 Club, two years after the loss of his wife.
“I’d just stay in the house by myself but people kept telling me to go out,” he said.
“Somebody at my allotment told me about The A59 Club, and after a few times I liked it. Now I think it’s absolutely brilliant.
“It’s a friendship club. There are no married couples. The youngest is about 50 and the oldest in their eighties.
“When I joined, they did tell me: ‘This is not a knocking-off shop!’”
It was Doreen’s smart appearance which caught Neville’s eye.
“Blimey, Doreen’s here,” he’d say when she’d enter the venue — and when his relationship with another member finished, Neville took Doreen to an Indian meal organised by the club.
“I definitely didn’t want to get married again, but we hit it off straight away,” said Doreen.
“He’s a very nice man — very quiet, but I make up for that.”
After the first date, nearly two years ago, Neville came to Doreen’s bungalow to hang some pictures and although nothing “happened” then, the rest was soon history…
Neville admired Doreen’s dress sense, Doreen enjoyed “smartening up” Neville’s appearance (“I’ve never had so many clothes”). Together they enjoyed the same food, music, sun and holidays. Both families were delighted — on the surface, this was the perfect love match … then snoring took its toll on the relationship.
“I was very glad I’d met him, until I found out about the snoring,” said Doreen.
“I could hear Neville through the bedroom walls. It was horrendous.
“I had ear plugs and pressed my ears in. Neville had nose strips, but nothing worked.
“I didn’t know what to do. I’d kick him and bang on the wall.
“I just couldn’t sleep, even in another room, because of his snoring.
“It made me very bad-tempered.”
The couple split up over Neville’s snoring for some time last year but they couldn’t stay apart. While Doreen was abroad, Neville texted her from home on a daily basis. After two weeks, she invited him across to France and they were reunited.
“When she told me to come out, I booked the flight within three hours,” said Neville.
“I missed him, definitely and it was lovely to see him again,” said Doreen.
Together with Neville’s son, the couple took seven weeks to travel back to England in a motorhome and resolved to find a cure for Neville’s snoring on their return.
In the five months leading up to the out-patient procedure — which is carried out under local anaesthetic and involves unblocking the throat and nose — Doreen insisted Neville slept at his home in Accrington as she felt unable to cope with his snoring.
“He has been marvellous since the operation, it has been bliss,” said Doreen, who would recommend the procedure to anyone.
On Christmas Day, while in Palma, Mallorca, for a fortnight, Neville went on bended knee in the hotel room and proposed to Doreen, who happily accepted and is now the proud owner of a sparkly ring in the shape of a flower.
“Last year, I had an idea Neville was going to propose but I didn’t want him to because of all the snoring,” said Doreen.
“But he didn’t. He got me a little locket with ‘I love you’ on it.
“This year I was kind of hoping he would propose…”
Doreen and Neville, who say they “do everything together”, hope to get married later this year.