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How to find happiness, by the soon-to-be oldest newlyweds in the UK

The i logo The i 24/08/2018 Fran Yeoman
a man sitting at a table looking at a book shelf © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

Not many brides have their great-grandsons as page boys at their wedding. But then, not many brides are 79 years old.

On Saturday at 1pm, Muriel Kodritsch will be an exception to those norms when she walks down the aisle at All Saints Church in Nynehead, Somerset to marry Frank Bird. Notwithstanding Muriel’s advanced age, her fiancé - you can hear the happy pride in her voice when she uses the term - is an older man.

In fact, the former Esso executive is 88, and the couple, with their combined age of 167, are reportedly the oldest newlyweds to tie the knot in the UK.

“Now how true that is I don’t know, I’ve not had time to check it out,” Muriel says. “I can only say that from loneliness we have found great happiness.”

The whirlwind romance

It has been something of a whirlwind romance. The couple first met only last November, at the church where they are now to be wed.

Muriel, who volunteers at All Saints, caught Frank’s eye in the process of showing him to a vacant seat, but shortly afterwards went away to visit relatives over the festive period.

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Apparently smitten, Frank asked around the local churches for the “lady with two walking sticks” - Muriel had a bad back on the day they met - but, she explains, “normally I have one stick or none” and so nobody could help.

“He couldn’t find me anywhere for three weeks!”

Eventually the pair were reunited, and within months Frank had proposed, at his house in West Buckland, Somerset, after the couple had been out for coffee.

“He went down on one knee - bless his heart, he’s 88 - and he didn’t get stuck down there either, he’s quite fit,” Muriel recalls.

“I had had four years of being an independent woman I didn’t expect to get married again.”

And yet she accepted, because “I have known him since last November and we have become the greatest friends.”

A joyful union

Both bride and groom have had long and happy marriages before. Muriel’s husband of 52 years, David, passed away in 2014, while Frank’s wife Renee died in 2016 after 62 years of marriage.

“So we are just hoping for a happy union ourselves and I am sure we will be very happy,” the retired carer predicts, while wearing her wedding shoes in an effort to “break them in”.

Provided by Getty © Getty Provided by Getty

“I love him dearly; he is a lovely man and he thinks the world of me.”

For his part, Frank has recounted exactly what the pair were up to when the time came to pop the big question; watching Pride and Prejudice on TV.

And he is humble about his agility when the time came: “Our armchairs were close together which made it easy for me to get down on one knee,” he told Somerset Live.

“She said ‘I do’ - and hopefully, as the saying goes, we will live happily ever after. We didn’t want to have a long engagement because of our age.”

Reminiscing about his own memories of the moment they first met, he said: “Her smile and laughter caught my eye - and I thought ‘she would be very nice to know’.” And so it has proved.

Family affair

Muriel’s young great-grandsons won’t be the only relatives chipping in on the big day. Her son Kevin will be giving her away and her daughter Kirsty will deliver a reading, while Frank’s son Steven will take the role of best man.

There will be granddaughters as bridesmaids and a grandson as official photographer, taking pictures of no fewer than 109 guests including the groom’s daughter Alyson and both Muriel’s sisters.

Related: We Can’t Believe The Groom Planned This Entire Wedding Himself (Provided by Southern Living)

“It is very much a family affair”, the bride says, adding that the couple’s respective offspring are “all very happy” about the nuptials.

A reception at Taunton and Pickeridge Golf Club - Frank has long been a golfer - will feature a first dance from the newlyweds, but Muriel says she “doesn’t want to divulge” exactly which Nat King Cole number it will be performed to, lest her friends read this article before the celebrations and it spoils the surprise.

All she does reveal, for anyone desperate for a clue, is that is is “very apt”.

She will disclose that Frank’s neighbour will provide the music, but as to the menu, her dress and the honeymoon destination? Other than that the couple will head to the South Coast following the festivities, Muriel is “not divulging that either”.

On finding happiness

What she will divulge, on request, is her advice to anyone of her age who is feeling like it might be too late to find love or happiness.

“If any old people out there are lonely, get out and join some clubs or work for the church or something”.

Provided by Getty © Getty Provided by Getty

It certainly worked for Muriel and Frank.

“We were both lonely in our own way and now we are happy and very excited. It really is a happy occasion.”

Age, as they say, is just a number.

“I love him and he loves me and that is the most important thing.”

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