14 February 2017
Health & wellbeing
A true Hanover romance for Valentine’s Day
The latest chapter in an extraordinary love story that began more than 40 years ago will see Joan Neininger and Ken Selway, from a Hanover Extra Care Housing estate in Gloucestershire, marry at the town’s registry office on 18 February.
The couple’s highly unusual romance, reported in the national press, began in 1975 when Joan, then a married 47-year-old, found Ken rummaging through the bins of a fish and chip shop in Gloucester.
Ken was not a street drinker and Joan realised he was simply someone who had slipped through the welfare safety net. At first he was unwilling to let her help, but finally she made and wrapped sandwiches and left them in the bin. Later he came home for a meal. It was the unlikely start to a deeply loving relationship.
Speaking recently to The Daily Mail, Joan said: ‘I never thought for a minute it would end like this. But although he was living on the streets, I knew straightaway that Ken was a lovely man with a beautiful soul.’
She later learned that Ken had been evacuated to Wales from London as a Bevin Boy. When his Welsh foster father died he had returned to London where his mother, unable to cope with his mental health problems, had turned him away. Sleeping rough, Ken had then gone to Gloucester to look for his foster father’s relatives.
Ken became a regular part of Joan’s family’s life. But eventually, caring for Ken put a strain on her marriage and she separated from her husband. Joan bought and lived in a caravan, and later Ken moved in too.
Sadly Ken’s schizophrenia, which included hearing voices, soon made that difficult. But he finally agreed to accept medication and medical help.
Today he is in a much better place. He told The Daily Mail: ‘When I met Joan I was sleeping rough and wanted to kill myself. I probably would not be here now if wasn’t for her leaving those sandwiches in the bin. She’s a really kind person.’
When Ken developed health problems and moved into a Hanover Extra Care Housing estate in Gloucestershire, the pair soon became lonely. So care staff arranged for Joan to move in too and it was then that Joan proposed.
Family, friends and Hanover estate staff could not be more delighted. The couple will marry on Joan’s 88th birthday. At the reception, they will play Ken’s favourite song, Amazing Grace, which includes the line: ‘I once was lost, but now I’m found.’
Please see below a selection of links relating to the above story: