Ade Adepitan has married Linda Harrison in a beautiful St Paul's Cathedral wedding. It was a traditional service for the Nigeria-born groom and Scottish bride, who brought together two families, two cultures and two countries in a celebration on 11 August 2018. "Everyone says it’s the best day of your life but it was probably better than that," the sports pundit, TV presenter and wheelchair basketball Paralympian told HELLO!. "We were ordinary people in an extraordinary place and you could see everyone take a breath as they looked around at the grand surroundings. It was slightly overwhelming."
Ade, 45, was able to marry Linda, 28, a singer who performs under the stage name Elle Exxe, in the quire of St Paul's. The MBE he earned in 2005 for services to disability sport gave him the right to wed there - although he likes to joke he slipped them a fiver. The Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer were married in the cathedral in 1981. "So no pressure," confessed Ade. "Friends were saying: 'People like us, where we come from, don't have weddings like that.' But Linda and I are both dreamers - we set our goals high."
Ade Adepitan and his bride Linda Harrison Photo credit: Allister Freeman
He was greeted with hugs from members of the congregation, which included friends soprano Camilla Kerslake and her rugby union star husband Chris Robshaw, Olympians Mark Foster and Christine Ohuruogu and TV presenter Anita Rani. Linda walked up the aisle, looking beautiful in a bespoke off-white satin gown by YSA Makino for Kavelle Couture, with a sweetheart neckline and plunging back. Under her flounced skirt of ruffled organza she wore hand-beaded Converse trainers. "I looked around and saw Linda, and my heart was bursting out of my chest," said Ade. "She looked so, so beautiful. My eyes started watering, and quite a few of my friends turned their faces away as they didn't want to start crying, too."
The pair were taken in a Rolls-Royce Phantom to Tower Pier where they and their guests, who'd been transported in old Routemaster buses, boarded a boat to Queen's House in Greenwich for the reception, with Tower Bridge opening especially for them. As the champagne flowed on board, Ade, Linda, Euan and Ade's best men Dan McCaffrey and his brother Olu made speeches. "I said a few words rather than a speech," revealed Linda. "But I told Ade that I loved him and said how important it was for me to tell him I loved him in front of all these people. I also told him he was the best man I had ever met, the best man I would ever meet, and possibly one of the greatest men that's ever lived.
"One of the favourite things I heard was in Ade's brother's speech. He said that when Ade was young he dreamt of becoming a professional athlete, and that came true. He also dreamt of becoming a journalist, and that came true. He also wanted to marry a rock star – so that was quite cool." Ade, who contracted polio aged 15 months in Nigeria and went on to win a bronze medal as part of Great Britain's wheelchair basketball team in the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games, spoke of the first time he saw Linda perform.
"I knew that this was the woman I wanted to marry but I was a little bit overwhelmed. She was so beautiful and so cool – why would she want to marry me?" Ade knew Linda was The One as soon as they met. She was 19 and had gatecrashed the National Television Awards, which Ade was attending. I was pushing around looking at everyone and I saw this massive smile beaming out. She had an aura, something about her, so I made a beeline. I fell in love straight away." Linda, who was studying for a degree at The Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford, wasn't looking for a relationship but after six years they were living together, and three years ago Ade proposed while on holiday beside Lake Como. "I got the ring out and Linda said: 'I don't care if you're in a wheelchair, you need to get down on one knee.' But I don’t have the core strength or balance to go on one knee so I got down on two."
They originally planned to marry last August but cancelled just a few months before, when Linda was invited to perform at V Festival. The fact that he uses a wheelchair has no impact on their relationship. Linda will often push herself around their house in Ealing in one of his spares just for fun. "When I saw her eyeing me up, I thought it was because of my good looks, but actually she was checking out my wheels," Ade joked. People can be insensitive. The couple are asked about their sex life, or it's assumed Linda looks after Ade. "But I'm not a carer in any way, shape or form," she shared. "She's terrible," added Ade. "If I had to rely on her to look after me I'd be starving, thirsty and on the floor. But we probably discombobulate people. When they look at us there are so many things that aren’t normal, they don’t know which one to go for first. Is it the colour? The disability? The age difference? So they often don’t say anything."
A busy year now lies ahead for the couple. Linda will be performing at London's The Social in October, while Ade has just completed a new BBC series on Africa. They would love to have children one day soon. "I don't want to be a doddery old dad," said Ade. They have just returned from a minimoon by Lake Como, where they were able to reflect on their big day. "I looked at all our friends and how much love they have for us, and how beautiful Linda was, and thought: 'Things are going to be all right,'" said Ade. "When you've worried all your life about how it's going to go, it's overwhelming to think: 'Things are going to be great.'" So what does marriage mean to them both? "For me, its love, friendship and family," said Ade. "It's the same for me," added Linda. "Except I'd add the word 'forever' afterwards."
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