A Wigan couple are enjoying the start of married life - after tying the knot in secret.
John and Maureen Calderbank got married at Cockington Court in Torquay on Tuesday last week.
They decided not to tell their families about their nuptials as Maureen’s son Sean got married just a few days earlier and they did not want to take away any attention.
John, who lives in Ince, said: “Maureen’s son got married on the Saturday. What we didn’t want to do was have his wedding, with all the big build-up, and have our wedding take anything away from their day.
“We didn’t know the date at first and it just happened that we had both decided to do it at around the same time.
“Rather than change it, we thought we would get married in secret and when we came back, we would tell them.”
The couple got engaged in Torquay last year and decided to go back for their wedding.
They told their families they were going on holiday after Sean’s wedding but did not mention they were also planning their own wedding.
Instead they appealed for people to attend the wedding as witnesses through a newspaper in Torquay.
John, 60, said: “About 10 people got in touch. We met the first people and they were really, really nice and we got on well.
“But when we turned up the registrar said someone had been there since 9.30. These two ladies had turned up to support us and didn’t know what time the wedding was. They were sitting waiting for us.”
The four witnesses even took along presents for the couple - flowers and a gift box containing small items for a successful marriage.
The couple tied the knot and signed the registers accompanied by their favourite song Always And Forever by Heatwave.
Afterwards, photographs were taken in a rose garden and they celebrated at a hotel.
Maureen, 58, said: “It went really well. It was a lovely day.
“The ladies turning up just out of the blue to give us support was really nice.”
John and Maureen had considered several options for breaking the news to their families, which includes six children and 11 grandchildren in total.
Their ideas included wearing their wedding rings to a family meal to see if anyone noticed or giving them copies of the Torquay newspaper featuring their appeal.
But instead they phoned them after the wedding.
Maureen said: “I said I didn’t think we should keep it a secret until we got back so we rang them.
“They are all made up. They are all really happy.”
The couple spent the week in Torquay for their honeymoon.
During their stay, they went for a meal with two of the witnesses and got on so well that they plan to keep in touch.
It is another chance of happiness for the couple, whose previous partners both died.
Maureen had been married to John’s cousin Roy and John contacted her via Facebook to ask how she had coped with his death after losing his wife Julie in 2013.
They got on well and love blossomed.
Maureen said: “I never thought I would get married again. I never thought I would meet anybody that I love so much.”
And if two weddings was not enough, the family had even more to celebrate the following day - Maureen’s son Ryan’s baby daughter was born.