Tributes have today been paid to a woman who, along with her partner, formed Britain’s first married couple with Down’s syndrome.
Andrea Annear, who suffered from a heart condition, died earlier this month, aged 45.
I know what a difficult time this must be for Paul and want him to know that all our thoughts are with him.Fylde MP Mark Menzies
She was today described as a “well-known face” in St Annes who hit the headlines when she defied the odds to marry childhood sweetheart Paul in 2004 after they met in a home for children with learning difficulties in the town.
The couple first met at the original Ormerod Home in St Annes.
They became good friends and their friendship blossomed into a close loving relationship.
In around 1995, the couple decided they wanted to get married, but were initially persuaded to have a blessing instead, after concerns were raised including whether the couple could understand the legality of their vows.
But, undeterred, they continued to pursue their dream and with support from social services, support workers and the Ormerod Trust, they were married at the United Reformed Church at St Annes in September 2004.
Andrea told The Gazette at the time: “I am very happy now we are together and I am called Mrs Annear. My wedding day was brilliant. Everything has changed for us.
“Now Paul and I are in charge of our lives and we make the decisions, not other people.”
The couple celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary last September.
But she suffered from a heart condition related to her disability and doctors had previously warned against the risks of her becoming pregnant as it would put too much strain on her heart.
Today Fylde MP Mark Menzies paid tribute to Andrea.
He said: “I was sad to hear this week about the death of Andrea Annear who was a very well-known figure around St Annes.
“Andrea and her husband Paul were the first couple with Down Syndrome to be married in the UK and were both supported by the Ormerod Group, of which I am patron.
“Andrea met Paul after moving into Ormerod House and I believe they have been almost inseparable since getting together.
“I know what a difficult time this must be for Paul and want him to know that all our thoughts are with him.”
A spokesman for The Downs Syndrome Association said Andrea’s death was “sad news” and said her story was “inspirational”.