A Co Tyrone couple have fallen in love all over again – more than 60 years after they first met.
Newlyweds Veronica (82) and Charlie Doherty (84) from Dromore are both counting their blessings after finally making it down the aisle.
The lovebirds first set eyes on each other back in the 1950s, but their relationship ended and they didn’t speak for decades.
“We went to dances in Castlederg and that’s how we met,” Charlie said.
“We would come home from them on our push-bikes.”
Their friendship soon blossomed into romance.
“By 1953, we were in a relationship and my father and mother liked her very much but I had decided that I wanted out of Tyrone,” Charlie recalls.
“I went to London and I didn’t tell anybody I was going, not even Veronica. I left her broken-hearted.”
Both Charlie and Veronica went on to marry others and have families of their own until Charlie took action that brought them together again.
Charlie married Chris, a native of Limerick, in 1961 and had two children, Margaret and Michael.
Veronica (née Morris) also got married and has two sons, Paul and Gary.
After Chris died, Charlie’s mind turned to his first love and he enlisted the help of a friend in Scotland, where he lived until a few months ago, to find her.
“I never forgot about her so I asked my friend Henry if he would go and look for her.
“He wandered around, knocking on the doors in Dromore.
“It took a while but he eventually tracked her down.
“He asked if her name was ‘Veronica’ and she said it was.
“He explained himself and how he was there on behalf of Charlie, who was asking for her. She replied, ‘I thought he was dead long ago!’
“I couldn’t believe it when he managed to find her after all these years because I was getting desperate. Also I wasn’t sure how I would be received after leaving her in the first place.”
After exchanging telephone numbers and speaking frequently, the pair soon realised that their flame hadn’t been totally extinguished.
In January of this year, Charlie made the journey to Northern Ireland to see Veronica once again and stayed for three weeks.
“As soon as I saw her it was love at first sight – all over again,” Charlie said. “Her lovely blue eyes just lit up.”
Veronica added: “I’m very lucky because he’s still the lovely man that he always was.
“I had tried to forget him but I couldn’t, even though we were very young when we first met.
“I nearly died when Henry came to my door because I had no idea that Charlie was still living.”
Charlie soon announced that he was moving back to Tyrone and then came the long overdue marriage proposal.
Describing his love for Veronica, Charlie said: “She is absolutely super. We’re always laughing – we go out together and do everything together.
“I was really down-and-out but she has picked me up and lifted my spirits.”
Bringing their fairytale love story full circle, the couple were married by Fr Patrick McEntee during an emotional ceremony in St Davog’s Church in Dromore on September 18.
They hope to honeymoon in Scotland in the coming weeks.
The couple also now have four grandchildren between them – Ben, Nathan, Nicholas and Rachel – and have been warmly welcomed into each other’s families.
They are hoping for many years together after so much time spent apart.
“Both my two husbands are dead so I hope this one stays around for a while. Charlie’s sister is 92 so that bodes well for him,” Veronica laughs.
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