Couple Get Abuse In The Street Because of 20-Year Age Gap
For Andrew Bird and Stephanie Jarvis it's a pretty classic tale of boy meets girl. She was a waitress at a cafe in the remote Orkney Islands in Scotland, where he would come and visit her in between shifts. They eventually got together, before Stephanie moved to Inverness to be with Andrew, where they're now both coach drivers.
But it's not all plain-sailing with these two, thanks to their 20-year age gap - Andrew is 43 and Stephanie is 24. Often mistaken for father and daughter, strangers taunt them in the streets, call Stephanie a 'gold digger' and, even more cruelly, referring to Andrew as a 'child fiddler'.
"When we're out in public together, holding hands, we get called all sorts," Stephanie says.
"Andrew has been called a cradle snatcher, and a child fiddler, and I often get called a gold digger.
"We just try and shake it off because it tends to be more awkward for the person who is saying those things, especially when they see we're not bothered.
"Having the support of my parents, and even Andrew's children, is the most important thing. If our loved ones aren't bothered, then why should anyone else be?
"One month after we had met, and I had closed the door on my previous unhappy relationship, Andrew asked me if I would run away with him to his home town.
"I packed up my stuff and went to be with him, because I didn't want to be without him."
Stephanie says that some family members had their doubts at first, before they realised how happy Andrew made her.
"I left behind my mother, father and brother - but I called my mum to let her know about Andrew, I just said 'but I'm nervous to tell you - he's older than me'," she said.
"My mother and I were a bit dubious at first because I was only 20 at the time, but then everyone started to notice how well he was treating me, and how happy I was - and that's all that mattered.
"Since I moved three years ago, I have trained to become a coach driver, we've got engaged and we've started planning our wedding."
However, despite both Stephanie and Andrew's families accepting each into their lives - Andrew's three children even call her 'Mumma J' - they've actually faced more backlash from people who don't even know them.
"The most poignant memory that I have of us being mistaken for father and daughter was when we went to a fair ground," Stephanie says.
"I took his children on one of the rides and Andrew was holding the bags, and I ride attendant asked if 'daddy is paying?'.
"I simply replied, 'no, but my fiancé is', and the attendant just went completely bright red - he was more embarrassed than us.
"We also get the horrible comments and dirty looks, but we're not bothered. We're happy and that's all that matters - it's no one else's business!"
Too right. It's impressive that Andrew and Stephanie don't let the haters get to them. We can barely cope with getting a bit of side-eye in the street. Better yet, the couple are now planning their wedding, with plans to have children of their own in the future.
Featured Image Credit: Caters