Couple who called off engagement in 1953 tie knot 63 years later


A couple forced to call off their engagement as the bride’s parents did not approve have tied the knot nearly 65 years later.

Davy Moakes, 86, and Helen Andre, 82, met and fell in love at art college and he proposed in 1951.

His fiancee’s parents refused to give their blessing, fearing he would struggle to provide for his family if he became an artist – and the wedding was scrapped two years later.

But after five marriages between them, the pair were reunited last year with the help of Miss Andre’s daughter Debbie Williams, and finally married in a register office in Ripley, Derbyshire, on Friday.

Talking from their honeymoon in Cyprus yesterday, the new Mrs Moakes said: ‘I couldn’t be happier – all my dreams have come true.

‘When I was 19 and my mother and father stopped me marrying him I was heartbroken … They wanted to decide who I married, not me. They were quite Victorian like that.

‘I have loved Davy my whole life, but now I’ve got him. I’m enjoying every minute of it. I feel like a teenager again, it really is like nothing’s changed.’

Fittingly for a couple who met at art college, their reunion was sparked by a sculpture.

Following her third husband’s death in 2010, Mrs Moakes had moved to live with her daughter in Alfreton, Derbyshire. On a visit to nearby South Normanton – where she had first met Mr Moakes – she noticed a sculpture with the signature Adrian Moakes.

A search on social media revealed that the creator, 57, was her former fiance’s youngest child.

Her daughter contacted the senior Mr Moakes, who was living in Doncaster, but he was nursing his second wife Margaret, who had Alzheimer’s disease. Following her death 18 months ago, contact was made again to pass on condolences.

Mr Moakes later moved to Alfreton and proposed in October. He said yesterday: ‘It’s so strong, the love between us. Even after all this time, it still feels the same. It’s just perfect, it’s just how it was.’

The groom, who became an artist in his late 60s after a career teaching art and then in design, was 21 when the couple first met. They became engaged the following year and planned to marry when she was 19 – until her parents Adrian and Gertrude West intervened.

Three years later, in 1956, the pair almost rekindled the relationship when Mr Moakes’s father bought two tickets for a local dance. But Mr and Mrs West locked her in her bedroom to stop her attending.

Mr Moakes described their objection as ‘very unfair … but there was nothing we could do about it, unless we were to run away, so we drifted apart’. He married cooking teacher Rosemary Latham in 1957 and they had two children.

Meanwhile, Mrs Moakes qualified as a dress designer and set up her own business before her wedding in 1960 to Tony Rollings, with whom she had three children.

She twice bumped into Mr Moakes at Round Table dances in Sheffield in the mid-1960s.

‘We realised we were very much still in love,’ he said. ‘But we both had children and were married … We agreed we could not be together.’