Lisa and Stephen had both been trainees at Sunbeam House Services (SHS) for several years, but they didn’t really get to know each other until 1995—Lisa pinpoints the date precisely; it was May the 26th—when they got chatting at a friend’s birthday party. Then they started to go out to the cinema and for meals together. ‘It began to set serious, and we were very happy together,’ says Stephen. ‘We did our own thing, as well as with our group of friends. We were also working together. I thought that might ruin it, but we stayed together and we grew stronger.’
They didn’t rush into anything, but—maybe it was around that friend’s engagement party in 1998?—they started thinking about getting engaged. At the end of 1999, Lisa’s father visited Dublin, and Stephen got up enough courage to ask him for his daughter’s hand in marriage. He said yes—and SHE said yes!
Their wedding day was 28 September 2002. The ceremony was in Stephen’s parish, St Mary’s in Sandyford, with the reception at the fashionable Killiney Court Hotel—Lisa’s choice. Guests came from far and wide. Stephen lived in Coventry until he was seven years old, so some of his relatives came from England for the wedding. Lisa’s Irish mum and Italian dad had met in Africa, and she was born in Zimbabwe. Her parents divorced a few years later and her father still lives in Africa, but he was in Dublin to walk his daughter down the aisle—and her 89-year-old Italian grandmother also attended! Other relatives came from Northern Ireland and Canada .… And the weather cooperated perfectly for their lovely day.
I had asked Stephen and Lisa to talk to Frontline after hearing their presentation at the SHS staff seminar in January. (They talked about their wedding in the context of their ‘personal outcomes’ for the previous year!) They invited me to visit them in their comfortable, newly furnished flat in downtown Bray—beside all amenities, as the property pages say. They were watching Coronation Street when I arrived, and Stephen made me a cup of coffee. After that awful Richard’s body was pulled from the Canal, Lisa filled me in on recent traumas on The Street. (I lived in Salford for 12 years and sometimes get re-immersed (no pun!) in the soap, but I hadn’t been following the current heart-scalding episodes.)
‘To my wife on her birthday’, said the largest card among more than a dozen displayed on their dining table. Lisa’s birthday had been earlier that week, and they were out three nights in a row. On quieter evenings it might be TV, watching videos, chatting or maybe going bowling or swimming in town.
Stephen works making wood products in the ATEC workshop at SHS, and two days a week he helps in the St Vincent de Paul warehouse in central Dublin. Lisa also works in ATEC, lends a hand in the SHS office, and goes to weekly flower arranging classes and women’s group meetings. She is looking at still further options with her job coach.
Stephen attends a creative writing class, and he has given us permission to print the poem he read to the SHS seminar. As he says, ‘We were married on the 28 of September 2002 and we live happily ever after.’
The Wedding Poem
Me & my bride are all loving inside & we took it in our stride.
Everyone had a ball and we stood ten feet tall.
The bride gleamed with delight; the groom was filled with sunlight.
The service went without a hitch; we were like a king & queen.
The reception was a breeze; we took it at our ease.
The photographs were a breeze.
It was a day never to forget, it was a day of no regrets.
Everyone had a great time and we all drank some wine.