Call us now on

0800 201 4811

Finding love

Jo Willacy

Jo Willacy



Meeting someone new in later life, for companionship and love, can seem impossible, but these couples show that it can happen – and in very different ways…

‘I wanted companionship but now it’s so much more’, Jean Ellis, 82, lives with her partner Peter Wilgeroth, 86, in North Bay Court, a McCarthy & Stone development in Scarborough, Yorkshire, ‘I was married to my husband, Fred, for 51 years. He had Alzheimer’s for the last five years of his life and died in 2006. I’d joined Scarborough’s Alzheimer’s Society for support, attending meetings every Friday, and that’s where I met Peter. His wife, Violet, who died in 2005, also had Alzheimer’s. They’d been married for 52 years.

‘After Fred died, Peter was the first person who made me laugh. He walked into a meeting, said something and I just roared with laughter. Neither of us can remember now what he said – we’re too old!

‘When Peter first asked me if I’d like to go out for a meal, I was so shocked I replied, “I don’t think so!” But, back at home, I thought, “You silly old fool, what have you got to lose? He’s lovely.” The following week, I told him I’d changed my mind – luckily, he hadn’t changed his!

‘We went to a lovely fish and chip restaurant in Scarborough and we got on famously. We talked for hours, finding out we had a few of the same interests and, of course, we talked about Fred and Violet.

‘When Peter and I first met, I didn’t think I wanted to find love again, but I did want companionship. We’ve been together eight years now, moving in together two years ago, and I feel so blessed that our relationship has progressed to love. Our families are very happy that we’ve found each other – it stops them worrying about us being on our own.

‘We’re definitely going to be together for life, but we have no plans to get married. We don’t need to – our partnership is enough. We respect each other and we don’t take each other for granted, but it’s not all plain sailing. We do have our differences of opinion – we just talk about everything and always end up laughing. Being able to laugh together is important, and having the odd disagreement makes us stronger.

‘Peter is fun to be with. He’s caring and is always there for me. He’s a real gentleman. Peter says he loves my attitude to life – to laugh and be happy. One of our hobbies is ballroom dancing. When we go for our three-month winter holiday in Benidorm, we dance a lot; it keeps us young. People there call us Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire… but I do like to remind them that they’re dead!’

I'm proud that we met online

Jean Pudney, 66, met her partner, John Hanks, 66, via an online dating site. They have been a couple for four years‘. It was a couple of years after my divorce before I could consider looking to meet anyone. My daughters, Julie and Kathryn, kept encouraging me to try online dating. I was sceptical and a bit scared. Eventually, though, my girls wrote my profile for me and persuaded me to sign up with eHarmony ( I felt that a site where you had to pay for membership was safer.

‘I’d been on the site for just under a year when John emailed me. I’d had emails from other men, but none had led to anything. John’s emails were always really friendly, and we chatted about everything and anything. It turned out his daughters, Liz and Bev, were the ones who’d persuaded him to join, too. He claims he wasn’t looking for a woman at all!

‘John and I emailed each other for a year before we met. I wasn’t ready to rush into anything. Eventually, he asked me out on a date in York. I’d planned a lovely outfit to wear but on the day it snowed and the pavements were so icy I had to wear flat boots. I was upset as I like to dress glamorously. I texted John and said, “Don’t you dare look at my feet – I’ve got my flatties on!” Now, it’s an in joke that he never looks at my feet when I wear flat shoes!

We met for a coffee and we got on brilliantly – even though he wasn’t my type! There was just something about him that I really warmed to.

‘We dated for 10 months before we “officially” became a couple. We’d had a fabulous day out in Leeds and, as evening approached, I said, “I don’t want to go home alone, do you?” He felt the same, so I invited him back to mine. That was a Friday night – he didn’t go home until Monday morning!

‘We don’t live together; we live between each other’s houses. We’ve never discussed marriage, we’re both just so happy as we are. I think we’ve got the best of both worlds because we still have our independence. He loves his sports – golf, snooker, cricket – which is why he goes home for a few days every week! We have lots in common, too – we love ballroom dancing, holidays and trips in our motorhome.

‘I know there’s a stigma attached to online dating, especially for older people, but I’m really proud that we met online. I’ve found my soulmate.’

Like this article? Subscribe to receive updates...
Subscribe to receive notifications when we post new articles to our online magazine.
By subscribing to these updates you’re agreeing to receive email updates when new articles are published to the McCarthy & Stone online magazine.
We’ll never send you spam or sell your details. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Related Articles


Spotlight on York

A city of extraordinary cultural and historical wealth woven into  every  brick and beam, York seeps history at every turn. ...Read more


Summer Events in 2019 To Look Out For

The summer season is packed with a variety of events to appeal to a range of interests and ages. Savour the delights of new and exciting cuisine, enjoy the thrill of world-class horse racing and discover the latest super cars, at events taking place across the summer months.  ...Read more


It's All Greek To Us

Sparkling white beaches, deep blue seas, sugar-cube villages and venerable ancient sites make the
Greek islands an idyllic holiday destination for many. Tourists can immerse in the Greek cuisine,
century-old sites and local culture each island has to offer, while enjoy luxurious accommodation
and the locals’ warm and welcoming hospitality. ...Read more


Fishing for Fun

Looking for an exhilarating and challenging activity that brings a sense of serenity and calmness? We think we’ve found the perfect catch. ...Read more


It’s time to start living life to the full again

A McCarthy & Stone Retirement Living Plus apartment is about getting more from life for the over 70s. It’s the perfect combination really - company when you want it, help when you could use it, care when you need it. And all in the comfort of your own stylish new home. ...Read more


Explore Our Menu

Retirement Living PLUS is all about making life easier. This includes providing a great value in-house restaurant or bistro, where you can enjoy freshly prepared food in good company. ...Read more


Staying Cool and Well During A Heatwave

Although warmer weather can be a welcome sight for many, the increased temperatures can lead to
added risks for some, particularly those with health issues or those that are more vulnerable. Stay well with these tips.  ...Read more


The History of Father's Day

Father’s Day is the perfect time to thank fathers and father figures for their help and support. In this post, McCarthy & Stone look at the history of Father’s Day. ...Read more


A New Adventure 

Colin and Pat Mackay are looking forward to making the most of their retirement following their move to North Berwick.

...Read more


The Benefits of Downsizing in Retirement

There are many benefits of downsizing and if this is something you are considering, here, we share our knowledge about downsizing, and explain why it could be one of the best things you can do for your retirement.   ...Read more


Blooming Marvellous: The Chelsea Flower Show

The world-famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show. It’s the most glamorous day out in the gardening calendar.

The grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea are once again blooming with flora as the Royal Horticultural Society prepares to welcome 157,000 spectators to their annual five-day flower festival in May. ...Read more


Working After Retirement – Is It For You?

More and more people are choosing to put off their retirement and continue working. Plus, in many other cases, those who have already retired are looking to return to work. Here, we weigh up the pros and cons of each situation. ...Read more


How To Manage Your Diet In Retirement

There are many extra demands placed on our bodies as we progress through life and because of this our nutritional needs also change as a result. It is never too late to revamp your nutrition and nurture your body with a healthier diet.   ...Read more


Tackling loneliness among older people with Pen Pals

We understand the problem of loneliness amongst older people and we want to do something to combat it. That’s why we have created our latest Pen Pals programme, an outlet to connect older people with other older people in communities by the writing and exchanging of letters. Click to find out more. ...Read more


How To Make New Friends In Retirement

Friendship is hugely important at every stage in life, and retirement is no exception. What’s more, in retirement you could make the most of the extra free time you have to discover different experiences and meet new people – leading to new friendships and relationships.  ...Read more


Sheffield – The Steel Centre of the World

Famed for its industry and innovation, the green, modern cityscape now replaces the smoking chimneys from the industrial revolution. There’s a friendly, independent and alternative spirit that can be hard to find in other cities alongside a thriving cultural scene. ...Read more


Wally & The Flying Scotsman

Popular North Gate Court customer Wally Blazey moved into their McCarthy & Stone apartment with his wife Gladys seven months ago, and the couple have just celebrated their 72nd anniversary. At 92, Wally is one of the two last surviving drivers of the Flying Scotsman, the most famous steam locomotive in the world. ...Read more


The Top 11 British Hidden Gems

Where are the best locations in the UK to visit... that you've probably not heard of? We've ranked the best hidden gems around Britain, that are easy to access, and offer a great weekend away with the family. ...Read more


Do Pets Make You Happier?

Whether you're a pet owner or have a pet free home, animals of all kinds have been proven to improve the happiness of their human counterparts. To find out more McCarthy & Stone conducted a survey to see how pets enrich their owners lives. Here are the results! ...Read more