Twenty-five years have passed since Gloria Hunniford, 83, married her husband Stephen Way, but they have returned to their wedding venue on many meaningful occasions since then.
The couple exchanged vows in a "small and intimate" ceremony at St Peter’s Church in Hever on 6 September 1998, before celebrating at Hever Castle with the likes of Sir Cliff Richard, Esther Rantzen, Anthea Turner and Barbara Windsor. To mark their milestone anniversary, Gloria paid a visit to Hever Castle for a photo shoot and interview with HELLO!, where she spoke candidly about her emotional connection to the Kent location.
"I fell in love with the church when I came here from Northern Ireland. It is so small and intimate, and alongside it is the castle, so unlike other castles, which can be barren and big. Hever has something special. You can almost pretend – and dream – that you could live there," she began.
It now has a special significance for the entire family. Gloria's late daughter Caron was the first to marry her husband Russ Lindsay at the intimate church in 1991, seven years before the Rip Off Britain star chose it for her own big day.
Caron sadly passed away in 2004, seven years after being diagnosed with breast cancer. "Caron rests there now – it is where her grave is – so we have many reasons to go to Hever," said Gloria, who set up the Caron Keating Foundation in her memory.
Gloria's son Paul also followed in his sister and mother's footsteps and tied the knot with Lisa Abbott in 2015 in Hever, and Gloria said that her grandson intends to continue the tradition.
During an appearance on Loose Women, the TV and radio presenter said she felt emotional over Caron's son Charlie's wedding plans with Nicole Clements.
"I could cry at this point because I didn’t realise that Charlie wanted a church wedding and he told us yesterday that he’s getting married at the same church that his mum got married in," she said. "So that’s really lovely. You just sit back and think, I remember the day he was born and somehow 28 years has gone by like a flash."
Gloria shares her three kids Caron, Paul and Michael with her first husband Don Keating, to whom she was married from 1970 to 1992.
One year after her divorce, Gloria met Stephen at a pre-theatre drinks reception at London’s Lanesborough Hotel. Despite admitting she was immediately attracted to Stephen, she said she wasn't ready to begin a romantic relationship until one year later.
"As we approached the hotel, Stephen stepped out of a black cab and went striding in. I said to my friend: 'I hope he’s going to the same party as we are.' I was attracted to him at first sight," she said.
"We genuinely became the best of friends for nearly a year. I wasn’t ready for a full-blown relationship at that time."
He proposed while teaching Gloria to swim on holiday in Barbados. Gloria said the secret to their long-lasting relationship is "kindness and humour", adding that her husband has always been supportive of her family.
"When Caron had to have extended treatment, Stephen left his business in Bond Street with his staff, and we stayed on in Australia. It was a wonderful gesture of support, and he loved her like the daughter he never had," she gushed of her long-term partner.
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