It's not the usual setting for a love story, but a chance encounter at HM The Mount's Hertfordshire jail sparked romance for Helen and Steve. "It was 2006 and I was working as a teacher there," says Helen. Steve, who was a correctional officer, had recently moved to the education department to expand his career. “At that time, nobody wanted to work in this area, but I wanted to dedicate more time working with prisoners individually. I was ready for something new. They first met while Helen was lecturing in the prison library. "And I always joke he's too late to return," says Helen. Although they both liked each other, Steve was reluctant to take the first step. "I was a correctional officer and she was a civilian, so I was worried that it seemed inappropriate."
In September of that year, Helen left prison to start a new teaching job. On her last day, she wrote a note to Steve and originally gave it to a colleague to pass on. In the end, she had the courage to give the letter directly so that he would know she was interested. “I had an idea what it could be. It would be her phone number or a note to say get lost, you have no chance, ”he says. The pair began dating the following month, pursuing their common interests in art, opera and music. When they first met, they had some concerns about the age difference of 13, although Helen says she has become much less significant over time. “Steve was 29 when we started dating and some people raised their eyebrows. It was not a big problem for us. Age is just a number. "
While Steve admired Helen's intelligence and education, she was attracted to her playful nature. “I thought he looked so serious about him, but underneath is a very silly side. He just couldn't show at work. ”At the time, Helen was working as a teacher and singer.
They were married in July 2008 during a quiet Quaker meeting. "The vows, or promises as we call them, are uttered, but the rest of the meeting takes place in silence," Helen explains. “Instead of having an officer, we got married in front of witnesses at the meeting. Some people may get up later and talk to you. After the meeting, the couple celebrated with a reception for friends and family.
Shortly after the wedding, Helen's father became ill. "Between 2008 and 2016, we lost three of our parents, which was very difficult," she says. They fought together for mourning – Helen's parents and Steve's father died during this time – and that brought them closer. Since then they have developed a passion for travel and have visited many countries. “We are all over the world, in Africa, Nepal, India, China, Australia and Brazil. I love that Steve is always ready for anything and always enthusiastic. We do crazy things and change our plans at the last minute just because we can, ”says Helen. This "can do" attitude is also something Steve loves in his wife. “I remember once rafting after a difficult six hour journey. Helen was absolutely terrified, but she still got on the boat and did it. She never gives up. It's one of the things I admire the most about her, ”he says.
The couple attributes the success of their relationship to an intimate friendship and a taste for new adventures. “I was an opera singer until I was 37, then a teacher and now I do some compositions. We're always reinventing ourselves and trying new things, ”says Helen. "It's very important to be able to do things together," says Steve. “I think the chemistry is superficial. When you really love someone, you choose to invest that time in them. "
Although they both admit that they have taken an unconventional path compared to other couples, they believe it has helped them build a stronger bond. "We're never stagnant and we never say yet," says Helen. "We share dreams and goals and I think this is really important to keeping a relationship alive."
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