World’s longest Down’s syndrome marriage stronger than ever after 27 years

Gareth and Deana are showered in confetti on their big day back in 1992 (Picture:
The world’s first couple with Down’s syndrome to get married are still inseparable 27 years later.
 Gareth Tobias was just 17 when he met 19-year-old Deana for the first time at their local community centre in Cumbria in 1981.

He revealed he was quite in demand at the time, telling ‘Before I met Deana I had three girlfriends. ‘I chose the right one, and that’s Deana.’

Gareth, 55, who works three days a week at Morrisons, confirmed it was indeed ‘love at first sight’.

When asked how the marriage has fared over the years, he remarked: ‘I put up with Deana. ‘And she puts up with me.’
Deana and Gareth at their home in Cumbria (Picture: Tim Fisher for

Deana said she was first attracted to Gareth’s ‘ginger’ hair (Picture: Tim Fisher for

Gareth and Deana at their home in Cumbria (Picture: Tim Fisher for
It appears Deana, 57, shares the same sense of humour as Gareth, and told how she was first struck by his mop of red hair.

She said: ‘I thought “he’s ginger”. I like gingers. He had a beard at the time as well. A red one.’

She added: ‘I’m ginger as well.’ What started as a friendship soon blossomed into a loving relationship, but their families didn’t know how serious it was until 10 years later.

Gareth’s mother Anne Tobias, 80, said: ‘We didn’t know an awful lot about their relationship until they started talking about getting married.’

Gareth added: ‘We went away on holiday in Blackpool and got engaged down there. ‘It was Deana’s birthday.’
Deana beams as she walks down the aisle with Gareth back in July, 1992 (Picture:

Gareth and Deana celebrate their 25th silver wedding anniversary in 2017 (Picture:

Gareth and Deana Tobias often enjoy a drink down their local (Picture: Tim Fisher for
Gareth and Deana share a joke at home in Cumbria (Picture: Tim Fisher for

The lovebirds eventually tied the knot in front of 40 friends and family on July 4, 1992. This makes Gareth and Deana’s marriage the longest of any couple with Down’s syndrome.

The only other two that come close are Paul and Kris Scharoun-DeForge, from Syracuse, New York, whose 25-year marriage sadly ended with Paul’s death last year, and Maryanne and Tommy Pilling, from Essex, who’ve been married for 24 years.

Recalling the happy day all those years ago, Anne said: ‘It was so lovely. They were so prepared for it, they both knew their vows off by heart.

‘The vicar started to say the vows and they didn’t have to repeat them, they both just spouted them out.

‘About 40 to 50 family and friends went to the church, which was followed by a reception at a café in town, and an evening do with a lot more people.’ She added: ‘They were absolutely wonderful, they thought it was magical.

‘They did the song from Dirty Dancing, where the woman runs up to him and he lifts her up. ‘So Deana ran towards him and he lifted her up. Then everybody got up and sang You’ll Never Walk Alone.’
Gareth and Deana return to the church where they got married 27 years ago (Picture: Tim Fisher for

Anne admitted there has been some ‘ups and downs’ over the years but said ‘they’ve had a happy life’. She added: ‘Things are getting a little harder for them to do, whereas they used to go on holiday every year.

‘They went all over the place. Usually to Butlins or Pontins or somewhere like that.

‘They would stay in the caravan park and go out dancing in the evenings. ‘They always liked camping and they always did it by themselves.’

The couple can often be found enjoying a drink down their local pub, while Gareth is partial to the occasional cigar.

Anne said: ‘He has a few bad habits does Gareth, he smokes cigars. We’ve all tried to get him to stop. ‘But once he’s in a routine, it’s very hard to break him out of it. ‘He says he’s smoked since he was 19. He is a character.’

Deana added: ‘I still love him. Look at him now, he’s like an old man.’


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