A couple who were kept apart for decades after being forbidden from seeing each other by the bride’s strict father have finally tied the knot – 40 YEARS on.
Bill Brookman 62, was left gutted when Madeleine Coburn, 56, rejected his offer for a date at the pub in 1978, when he was 23 and she was 16.
But he had no idea she had only turned down his advances because her strict father had banned her from going because he thought Bill was “too arty”.
The pair went their separate ways until their paths crossed again in 2008 and Bill finally got to take Madeline to the same pub he asked her too 30 years previously.
They soon fell in love and in September last year the musician stunned Madeleine by getting down on one knee in a proposal which was broadcast live on BBC Radio 4.
The delighted couple wed at All Saints Church in Loughborough, Leics., on August 19 in front of 300 guests and Bill says his “perfect bride” was well worth the wait.
Bill, of Loughborough, said: “It really is an amazing thing, for us to have got married after so long.
“We had known each other a bit from school. She went to Loughborough High School, which was for girls, and I went to Loughborough Grammar School.
“I had gone off to study at arts college, but came back to the sixth form to put on a comedy showcase, at which time Madeleine was a student.
“She ended up playing a lead role, and was one of the dancers in the final performance.
“I had taken a fancy to her very early on, she had the most lovely smile to her and beautiful Irish hair and complexion.
“After the final performance, I phoned her up to talk things over and asked her out for a drink at the pub.
“She said yes, and I was absolutely over the moon.
“We were due to meet on the Friday, and I spent much of the week preparing for it and thinking about what we could talk about.
“And then, out of the blue, I had a phone call from Madeleine, saying that she couldn’t go anymore.
“I assumed that she had just fobbed me off and decided that it wasn’t a good idea after all, and felt very spurned about the whole thing.
“Of course I had no idea what had really happened, which was that her father had stopped her from going.
“I thought about it a little bit in the following years, but after a while it went to the back of my mind.
“In all truth, I just assumed that we would never see one another again – why would we?
“It’s very rare that you get to meet your crush after you’d been rejected, and that was how I perceived it.
“We both went our separate ways – I married, had two children, and sadly ended up divorcing.”
The couple met again in 2008 after Madeleine recruited him on a primary school project to introduce children to the arts.
Bill, who got through to the second round of Britain’s Got Talent 2016 with his one-man band on stilts act, added:”I had no idea that she was running it.
“But as soon as I set eyes on her I recognised her straightaway, just from that beautiful smile and those eyes.
“It bought back all of the memories, even though we didn’t mention the cancelled date until some years later.
“The project was all very successful, and sometime afterwards I asked her out on a date at my chalet.
“It was almost as if we were starting completely afresh. One day we talked about that time in 1978, and I jokingly mentioned how dejected I felt after she’d turned me down.
“She then explained how her father had banned her from going, which was a complete shock to me.
“The rest is history, as they say. We became a couple, fell in love, and that was that.
“I’m just over the moon with how things have turned out, and couldn’t be happier.”
Madeleine, a heritage worker, said: “When Bill asked me out on the date back in 1978, I started running up and down the garden, jumping and dancing.
“My mother was watering the plants, and I remember shouting at her ‘Bill Brookman has invited me on a date’.
“She turned around and said: ‘Well, we’ll have to check with your father’.
“I immediately felt as though that would put a dampener on proceedings, as he had very little interest in the arts, whereas Bill was by nature a performer.
“A few days later, as she was washing up, my mother told me that dad had said no, and that I couldn’t go on the date.
“Perhaps it was the age difference, I never thought to ask him.
“I had the most embarrassing conversation with Bill afterwards, when I had to phone him up to tell him.
“I was far too shy and embarrassed to tell him the truth, so I just said that I couldn’t come anymore.
“I felt so awful. I saw him a couple of times in the street in the years after, but always felt too embarrassed to speak to him.
“I knew that he had gone on to become a great performer, and he applied to help out at an event that I was helping to organise in 2008.
“In May 2012, he got in contact with me again to invite me for tea, saying that we should talk about potential projects together, which was lovely.
“Later that month, he phoned me up out of the blue again, and said: ‘It’s Friday, let’s bunk off early and go down to my forest cabin’.
“I thought that it all sounded very appealing, and we arranged to meet in a nearby car park.
“We both arrived at the same time with our windows down, and Bill very suavely said: ‘Follow me’.
“We had the most romantic meal together, and then went on a walk together as the sun set.
“The whole evening was so exciting, it was like going back in time and being a teenager again, infatuated with him.
“I’m so glad our paths crossed again, it really is a happily ever after fairy tale for us.”
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