Silver wedding: Phil and Jackie Hilliker

Jackie and Phil celebrated at home in Fareham with family and friends
Jackie and Phil celebrated at home in Fareham with family and friends
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They met when they were children and got into a relationship as teenagers, but soulmates Phil and Jackie Hilliker went their separate ways for some years before fate brought them back together.

The couple, from Fareham, are now celebrating their silver wedding and say they were always destined to be together.

‘We met at Harrison Primary School,’ says 54-year-old carpenter Phil.

‘Our parents knew each other in the navy.

‘We’d been in and out of a relationship ever since the age of 15.’

Jackie, 53, who is a cleaner, says: ‘We were both in the same circle of friends too.

‘We would be a couple, then we’d break up, and then we’d become a couple again.

‘That went on for a while because we were just kids.

‘It was in the early ’80s that we properly went our separate ways.’

The couple got on with their own lives after splitting and each entered different relationships. But when Phil married his new partner, Jackie was asked to make the wedding cake.

‘My brother and Phil have always been friends so they both came round to ask if I could make the cake,’ she says.

‘That was when the situation hit home for me and I remember thinking – this shouldn’t be happening.’

But in 1988 the pair reunited after Phil got divorced.

He says: ‘Our friendship picked up where it left off, we would go out for a drink or get a Chinese takeaway like friends do.

‘Eventually we became a couple again – I think we were always destined to be together.’

Phil surprised Jackie and proposed to her during a trip to Paris and in 1991 the pair married at Fareham Baptist Church.

They went on to have two children – Sophie, 21, and Joe, 18.

Jackie says: ‘It doesn’t matter how long we were apart for, it felt right and always has done.

‘Our relationship is definitely built on a friendship, we’ve had our ups and downs but we get through everything together.’

In 1996 the couple won £5,000 and extended their house as a result of being entered into a competition by The News.

Phil says: ‘I got a phone call asking if I wanted to have the paper delivered to my house every day.

‘Because I said yes I got entered into a competition, but at the time I didn’t think anything else of it.

‘A couple of months later I got a phone call to tell me I’d won the money. I thought it was somebody up the pub having a laugh.

‘I built the extension and it’s still standing.’

The pair celebrated their silver wedding with a garden party at their home, along with 40 friends and family members.

Phil adds: ‘It was a brilliant day, I’m glad we did it.

‘Marrying Jackie was definitely the right thing to do. Because I’d already been divorced I was doubtful about marrying again, but I knew Jackie was my soulmate and I had to do it.’