Optalis customers melt hearts this Valentine's Day

A couple living at Optalis' Oakfield Court supported housing scheme have been kind enough to share their story with us as Valentine's Day is around the corner...

Jackie and Steve Bastow married on June 7 1986, and they have lived at Oakfield Court for the last 28 years. Oakfield Court is a supported housing scheme in Wokingham, managed by Optalis. Both have a learning disability, and Jackie also has cerebral palsy, so she relies on an electric wheel chair for her mobility.

The couple first met when they were both attending Derwen Training College in Shropshire. Jackie was studying dress-making, whilst Steve was studying boot and shoe repair.

Jackie, 52, first saw Steve, 51, when she went along with some friends to watch a five-a-side football match. Steve was playing and she couldn’t stop watching him. He injured his knee during the match, and afterwards Jackie wanted to know how he was so she sent a note to him via a friend. At the time, Steve was teased by his mates about being sent notes from girls, but thankfully he ignored them and met Jackie at a disco the same night where he impressed her with his moves despite his knee injury!

Steve wined and dined Jackie over the next few months, and over the following two years their relationship became a strong one. One day Jackie went over to see Steve’s mum and dad for their Silver wedding anniversary only expecting to celebrate with them and all of the family, but she wasn’t expecting Steve to get on one knee in the garden in front of everybody and propose to her! Without any hesitation, Jackie said yes to him. She only regrets that she was wearing a Status Quo t-shirt at the time and not something dressier.

They were not able to live together for a while as Jackie was living in London and Steve was living in Manchester, but they stayed close to each other by phoning each other every day, writing letters, and sending each other gifts.

A chance meeting with a GP allowed them to learn about a new place that would be great for them to move into together in Wokingham, Oakfield Court - a place that they could start their married life together. After deciding to live there, they set a date for the wedding, moving into Oakfield Court the day after they became husband and wife.

They chose a church in Catford, South East London - near to where Jackie was living at the time. Jackie, her mum Eileen, and her sister Christine went wedding dress shopping soon after and Jackie found her dream dress in the very first shop she visited.

The big day arrived, and the couple had bridesmaids from both sides of the family who wore pink dresses, carrying pink and white bouquets. Jackie accessorised her walking sticks with white ribbons, and pink and white roses.

After the wedding and the reception they moved straight into their brand new home at Oakfield Court together. They then set off on a two-week honeymoon to Hayling Island, where luckily, they enjoyed consistently great weather!

They settled into their new lives together, and from the very beginning shared everything with each other - their passion for music, art, and just spending time together. They also enjoy travelling together, and over the years they have shared some amazing holidays going to Spain, Majorca, Corfu, and even Disneyland.

Steve and Jackie have always given each other gifts and cards on Valentine’s Day and always go out for dinner at one of the many restaurants in town to celebrate. Steve always makes sure that he buys red flowers for Jackie – it’s a tradition now!

The couple have worked hard on their relationship, not taking each for granted and making sure that the rough times are few and far between, with far more of the good times. They still make each other smile, and share everything with each other. They’re looking forward to many more happy years ahead together.

Jackie said: “Steve’s my little rock and keeps me going. That’s what is good about our marriage - we keep each other going.”

Steve said: “Jackie is the same girl that I first saw all those years back, and she still makes me as happy now as she did back then.”

Service manager at Oakfield Court, Geoff Keen, said: “I have known Steve and Jackie for as long as I can remember. I grew up in Wokingham, and remember seeing them together all the time, and I think that that is one of the great things about them as a couple, they are always together - sharing their time and experiences with each other. They are a big part of the community here at Oakfield Court.”

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