A mother, whose son was born with Down’s-syndr-ome and has married the love of his life, who also has the condition, says she hopes the couple’s love will change attitudes.
Kieran Duffy, 26, proposed to his sweetheart Emmie Houckham, 21, who also has Down’s-Syndr-ome, on Boxing Day 2016 and the couple wed before delighted friends and family in August 23rd this year.
Kieran and Emmie, who first met six years ago at a camp for people requiring additional needs, lived together for a few months in Bearsted, Maidstone, Kent, before they wed.
Kieran’s mum, Tessa Branch joked: ‘They didn’t end up k!ll!ng each other’ and so the wedding plans were put firmly on tr**.’ Mrs. Branch, who runs her own support service called Symb-ol, described the couple’s relationship, to Kent Online, as ‘real’ and said the couple planned almost every detail of the big day themselves from table decorations to the songs.
Instead of lots of h-ym-ns at the wedding, they had songs that meant something to them, including The Wonder of You by Elvis Presley and Make You Feel My Love by Adele.
Along with their pop favourites, the wedding, at All Saints Church in Stapleh*rst, also included a reading of the lyrics of You’re The One That I Want – made famous by the musical Grease, bringing joy and laughter to all those watching on.
Traditionally inspired vows were said during the service, but the pair also enco-uraged all the guests in attendance to promise to ‘meet, spe-ak to and laugh with strang-ers’.
Daily life brings challenges for Kieran and Emmie when it comes to things like assessing the value of money but Tessa Branch said they make a perfect match.
‘They really compliment each other well,’ Mrs. Branch added. ‘Say if they go out to a restaurant they’ve not been to before, Kieran might struggle to read the menu, whereas Emmie would be able to do so fluently.
‘But if they needed to ask for help, for example, Kieran has more confidence, so he wouldn’t be afraid to do that.’ Kieran’s Boxing Day proposal saw him singing the Wham! classic I’m Your Man, before getting down on one knee to give Emmie a diamond and pink sapphire ring.
In 2012 Kieran made headlines when he celebrated p!ck!ng up nine and a half GCSE passes at a mainstream school. It was believed to be the first achievement of its kind in Kent for someone with Down’s-syndr-ome.
He went on to study performing arts and now works as a tutor for the Hop Shed theatre company, based at the Hazlitt in Maidstone. Kieran’s mum believes the couple are like any other and have had their ups and downs.
‘He adores Emmie but likes his own space at the same time, whereas she likes to be with him all the time. ‘Sometimes he’ll ring me up and say ‘how do I get her to just go up to bed?’ or ‘how can I just get five minutes on my own?’ But you could argue that’s the case for an awf-ul lot of couples.
‘The biggest barrier for them is often other people telling them what they can’t do, but why can’t he have a stag do with a stripper all over him like everyone else?
‘It’s fantastic because I think it really changes people’s attitudes towards them. ‘We’re all so proud and so happy,’ she said.
The first wedding in the UK between two people with Down’s-Syndr-ome took place in 1995, between Maryanne and Tommy Pilling. The happy couple remains happily wed 24 years down the line.