An Aylesbury octogenarian and her 69-year-old toy boy are looking forward to their first Christmas together as a married couple – after more than four happy decades together. Rennie Grove Hospice Care volunteer, Sheila Rapley from Aylesbury, wed her partner of 44 years this summer. Andy and Sheila, 82, tied the knot at Quainton Railway Centre on 15 August, the same day as their youngest son’s 50th birthday.
“It was a brilliant day,” recalls Sheila. “The venue, where Andy volunteers on the miniature railway, was perfect for all age groups; we had a barn dance and my 14-year-old grandson played guitar for us. It was so lovely to see everyone and even our family in Australia travelled over to be with us. My 18-year-old grand-daughter was appearing in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival so we carried on the celebrations with a honeymoon in Scotland so we could see her perform.”
The happy couple have three children, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, the youngest of whom is just two. Sheila volunteers in Rennie Grove’s Wendover charity shop, where she nabbed some great bargains for her nuptials.
“The whole outfit came to about £20,” she marvelled. “I bought a Planet jacket, a gorgeous necklace, some silk flowers and an amazing collapsible hat from a former Luton hat factory.”
Sheila said it was the discovery of the hat, donated for sale in the charity’s shop, that set wedding bells ringing for her. “As soon as I saw the hat, I thought – that’s it! I loved it and I loved how it looked on me. I never thought a hat could knock 60 years off me! Now my friend wants to borrow it.”
As well as loaning out her lovely hat, Sheila is making sure her other wedding accessories bring joy to others too. She has donated her silk flowers back to the shop for a bridal window display.
In addition to volunteering in the Rennie Grove shop on Wendover High Street, Sheila makes tote bags of varying sizes from donated fabrics and curtains, selling them very successfully in the charity’s 24 shops across Herts and Bucks. She also makes a variation on those bags, which she donates directly to the charity for their hospice at home nurses to put patients’ syringe drivers in. Rennie Grove Director of Nursing, Sue Varvel, who lives in Wendover, commented: “What a lovely story – congratulations to Sheila and Andy! Syringe drivers are a crucial piece of equipment when caring for patients at home, especially during their final days. Sheila’s beautiful bags make a piece of equipment fit easily into patients’ homes, helping families come to terms with a difficult and sensitive situation - all part of helping patients and their families feel comfortable and at peace in their own homes.”
If you have a few hours to spare each week and would like to join the friendly team at Rennie Grove’s shop in Wendover and help bring in money towards the charity’s nursing service, call 01442 890222 or email firstname.lastname@example.org