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Couple marry four decades after first date was forbidden

A woman banned from going on a date with a man considered ‘too arty’ by her strict father has married him nearly forty years later.

Madeleine Coburn was told she could not go to the pub with Bill Brookman when he asked in 1978, when he was 23 and she was 16.

She said her father thought him unsuitable and they went their separate ways until their paths crossed again in 2008.

Madeleine Coburn was told she could not go to the pub with Bill Brookman when he asked in 1978, when he was 23 and she was 16. They are pictured at church in Loughborough on October 26

Mr Brookman asked Miss Coburn out again and they finally went to the pub he had planned to take her to.

The couple told their story on BBC Radio Four’s the Listening Project, when Mr Brookman asked her to marry him.

She refused to answer on air but later said yes in private.

‘The hand of fate is very strange but what I must say is sometimes it’s worth waiting 40 years,’ Mr Brookman, 62 said.

Madeleine Coburn (circled) at school in 1975. Miss Coburn, who works in the heritage and arts sector, never married, but Mr Brookman, a performer, had two sons with a previous wife

Madeleine Coburn (circled) at school in 1975. Miss Coburn, who works in the heritage and arts sector, never married, but Mr Brookman, a performer, had two sons with a previous wife

Bill(pictured in a 1976 school photo) asked her on a date and she said yes, but her strict father thought him ‘too arty’ and would not let her go

Bill(pictured in a 1976 school photo) asked her on a date and she said yes, but her strict father thought him ‘too arty’ and would not let her go

The couple told their story on BBC Radio Four’s the Listening Project, when Mr Brookman asked her to marry him. She said yes in private. They are pictured during their wedding in Loughborough

The couple told their story on BBC Radio Four’s the Listening Project, when Mr Brookman asked her to marry him. She said yes in private. They are pictured during their wedding in Loughborough

The couple grew up in Loughborough in Leicestershire, where they still live.

He went to school with her brother but she was, according to Mr Brookman ‘the little sister of no importance whatsoever’.

But they got to know each other in 1978 when Mr Brookman directed a play that 16-year-old Miss Coburn was taking part in.

He asked her on a date and she said yes, but her strict father thought him ‘too arty’ and would not let her go.

‘I was disappointed, but that’s just the way life is,’ said Mr Brookman.

‘The hand of fate is very strange but what I must say is sometimes it’s worth waiting 40 years,’ Mr Brookman, 62 said

‘The hand of fate is very strange but what I must say is sometimes it’s worth waiting 40 years,’ Mr Brookman, 62 said

Mr Brookman proposed while their conversation was being recorded by BBC Radio 4. He said his sister had encouraged him to do it

The couple pictured together

Mr Brookman proposed while their conversation was being recorded by BBC Radio 4. He said his sister had encouraged him to do it

He had no idea why she cancelled the date and simply assumed it was because she did not like him.

He said out of respect he was therefore not a ‘nuisance’ and did not pursue it.

Miss Coburn, who works in the heritage and arts sector, never married, but Mr Brookman, a performer, had two sons with a previous wife.

They met again in 2008 when they collaborated on a school project in Leicester.

‘I recognised her straight away, she hadn’t changed at all to me,’ he said.

Four years later he plucked up the courage to ask her out again when they went to the pub he had originally intended to take her to. ‘That was very sweet,’ said Miss Coburn.

Mr Brookman proposed while their conversation was being recorded by BBC Radio 4. He said his sister had encouraged him to do it.

The couple - who are pictured at church today - grew up in Loughborough in Leicestershire, where they still live

The couple – who are pictured at church today – grew up in Loughborough in Leicestershire, where they still live

‘It was a lovely moment. They told us we still have five minutes to fill so I thought I had better do something – but I wanted to.

‘I once spoke to a phycologist about it who said with a time gap it’s possible to pick up from then, I don’t see the gap. She is still that fresh girl to me.

‘She had suffered at the hands of her father, I think he was what stopped her getting married but he is no longer with us now.’

Miss Coburn said: ‘The fact we didn’t go out together when we were younger meant that we’ve both lived very rich lives.

‘Then we found each other again, and it was a special thing that happened to us, so I think we’re very lucky.’

The couple married in August with 300 guests.

BBC producer Namrata Varia said: ‘It was a privilege to record The Listening Project’s first ever marriage proposal.

‘It took me by complete surprise. To be honest I’m not sure who was more surprised by it – me, Madeleine or Bill.’ 

BBC producer Namrata Varia said: ‘It was a privilege to record The Listening Project’s first ever marriage proposal.' Pictured: Mr Coburn in 1988

Pictured: Mr Coburn in 1988

BBC producer Namrata Varia said: ‘It was a privilege to record The Listening Project’s first ever marriage proposal.’ Pictured: Mr Coburn in 1988

Bill and Madeleine at their wedding in August 2017, where Bill held his accordion as they posed for a kiss on a grand staircase

Bill and Madeleine at their wedding in August 2017, where Bill held his accordion as they posed for a kiss on a grand staircase

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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