CHINA WEDDING: John and Nora are no longer lonely thanks to ad in The News

John and Nora Pickering, from Portchester, met through The News' lonely hearts pages 20 years ago. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (170946)
John and Nora Pickering, from Portchester, met through The News' lonely hearts pages 20 years ago. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (170946)

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A couple who met through The News' lonely hearts pages are celebrating 20 years of marriage this month..

John Pickering met his wife Nora in 1997, when he replied to a dating advert from Nora Pearson in The News, and they went on a date the very next week at The Cocked Hats in Gosport.

John and Nora married in August 1997 at the Portsmouth Marriott Hotel

John and Nora married in August 1997 at the Portsmouth Marriott Hotel

'I had just got divorced and was looking for someone to go out with,' explains Nora. 'John replied to me with a letter that explained he looked after his mum.

'My mum said to me that anyone who looks after their mum is a lovely man and she said: "you are going to marry this man".'

John, from Southsea, proposed to Nora two weeks later.

'I fell for her straight away,' he smiles.

John and Nora on a recent holiday in Thailand, where their son lives

John and Nora on a recent holiday in Thailand, where their son lives

The pair, who are both 68, married in August of the same year at the Portsmouth Marriott hotel.

John, who had not been previously married, says: 'She was so nervous and I turned to her and said that she was beautiful, and then she relaxed.

'I thought I had missed my chance for love and then the perfect wife came along.'

John and Nora started a cleaning business called Ace 1 together, which they both worked for until they retired.

John and Nora happily at home in Portchester, August 2017. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (170946)

John and Nora happily at home in Portchester, August 2017. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (170946)

John added: 'We worked together for eight years and we never had a holiday. Now we have retired, we have been making up for it. We had six holidays in our first year!'

Nora, who is originally from Kent, has a son called Mark from a previous marriage who now lives out in Thailand. and John and Nora recently travelled out there to meet him and explore the country.

Nora said: 'It was beautiful, the food and the people.'

'We stayed in five-star hotels and a hostel but we liked the hotels better.'

John said: '20 years have just flown by and the lonely hearts column was the best thing that every happened to us.

'It was the best day of our lives.'

Nora believes the pair are perfectly matched.

'We are both alike,' she says. 'We think alike, we are alike and it's funny when one of us goes to say something and the other one is thinking the same.

'We have never rowed in 20 years because we give and take. If we go to buy something and one of us doesn't like it then we don't buy it.

'John is kind and caring and he is always smiling.'

John turns to his wife and replies: 'She is my soulmate and my best friend.

'If it weren't for The News we would never have met, but originally The News got the envelopes mixed up when I replied to another woman.

'I ended up getting another man's number, which was a funny turn of events.

'Then I replied to Nora. It was fate.'