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Teen Sweethearts Marry 35 Years Later After Reuniting At Wedding Of Man They Used To Babysit Together

Polly and Darryl with childhood photos of one another (PA Real Life/Collect)

An "officer and a gentleman" told how he married his teenage sweetheart in full military dress 35 years after their first bloom of puppy love – having rekindled their romance at the wedding of the man they once babysat.


Polly and Darryl Morby, of Northampton, England, first met in 1982 when, just 14 and 13 respectively, they babysat together for the children of her brother Andy and his aunt, Paula, who were married.

Both coming from military households, they had plenty in common and soon found themselves in the throes of young love.

How Darryl remembers Polly from when they were young (PA Real Life/Collect)

But, just 18 months after their friendship blossomed into romance, life moved on, they started working, and there was little time for dating, so they split up.

Then, when Darryl joined the Army in 1988 – which saw him stationed all over the world – they lost touch, although, Polly, 52, says he left his mark on her heart, adding:

“Without a shadow of a doubt, he was my first love."
“When we split up, it wasn't because anybody had done anything wrong – it just fizzled out, as we were growing older, starting work and had less time to date."

Darryl as a young man (PA Real Life/Collect)

In the years they were apart, Polly, who cannot work due to a disability, and Darryl, 51, both married other people.

She had two sons and a daughter – Jordan, 23, Christian, 27 and Stacey, 29 – while he had a girl, Sophia, 21.

But their paths crossed again in 2015 when, by then both divorced, they were invited to the wedding of one of the children they used to babysit together.

Andy and Paula with their daughter Clair, one of the the children Darryl and Polly babysat as teens (PA Real Life/Collect)

Delighted to reconnect as friends, history repeated itself when they fell in love again and, in 2017, were once more an item.

Then, in July 2019, 35 years after they first became boyfriend and girlfriend, they finally said, 'I do.'

“Polly wanted her man in uniform, so I married her in full military dress. I'm not quite Richard Gere, but it was like An Officer and a Gentleman," said Darryl, who has now retired from the Forces.

Polly and Darryl on their wedding day (PA Real Life/Collect)

Fate has played Cupid for the couple since their early teens when, despite living in different counties – Polly in Bedfordshire and Darryl in Northamptonshire – they were thrown together when their relatives married.

Darryl said:

“My auntie Paula was with Polly's brother, Andy. I don't know what that makes Andy to me – an uncle-in-law, perhaps?"

Soon smitten, Darryl recalled how he would cycle to his auntie's house whenever he heard that Polly was visiting.

Polly and Darryl when they got back together in 2017 (PA Real Life/Collect)

And the feeling was mutual, according to Polly, who said:

“He had absolutely gorgeous hair as a young lad, It was bleached white blond and quite long – I remember absolutely loving it."

Bonding as they babysat for Andy and Paula's children together, the pair exchanged stories about living in military households.

“We also shared the same sense of humor, and were both very down to earth," said Darryl. “I knew right away Polly was the one I wanted to be with."

But, while they became an item, most of their wider family did not know about their romance.

Polly added:

“Andy and Paula knew, and didn't mind. I think they'd rather we were honest, so they could keep an eye on us. I didn't tell the rest of my family though, as I'd grown up in a strict household and I worried about what they'd say."
“Darryl was my first boyfriend, though, and I was head over heels for him."

Polly with a photo of Darryl from when she was first dating him (PA Real Life/Collect)

But sadly, after 18 blissful months together, the couple made the difficult decision to part.

By then, she had landed a weekend job at a vegetable shop, and he had started a college course, training to be a chef, so their schedules never seemed to match.

With no car to drive to each other's houses and little spare time, the relationship eventually fizzled out and when Darryl joined the Forces, traveling all over the world, they lost contact.

Darryl with a picture of Polly from when he was first dating her (PA Real Life/Collect)

“We never kept in touch," said Polly. “I heard how he was doing every once in a while through Andy and Paula, but that was it. We never saw one another in person. I didn't even know where in the world Darryl was."

In time, they both met other people, with Darryl being married from 1993 to 1995, and Polly from 1995 to 2010.

But when they met again at the 2015 wedding in Irchester, Northamptonshire, Polly said her old feelings came flooding back.

Polly and Darryl when they got back together in 2017 (PA Real Life/Collect)

She said:

“My heart fluttered as soon as I had saw Darryl."

And she was not alone. He added:

“My legs turned to jelly. I was grinning from ear to ear, like a Cheshire cat."

Filling each other in on their years apart, Darryl even felt relaxed enough to tell Polly about a car crash in July 1999 that had left him comatose, and with a brain injury.

Polly and Darryl's wedding cake (PA Real Life/Collect)

And he spoke candidly about being left with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, by his years serving Queen and country.

Described by the NHS as an anxiety condition triggered by a frightening or distressing event, characterized by flashbacks, insomnia and feelings of irritability or guilt, it had dramatically impacted on his life.

“Because of some of the things I had been through, including the brain injury and PTSD, I perhaps wasn't quite the same person when I saw Polly again that she'd remembered me as," said Darryl. “But, inwardly, I knew how I felt about her. I realized seeing her again that day how much I had missed her."

Polly and Darryl on their wedding day (PA Real Life/Collect)

Vowing not to lose touch again, the pair stayed in contact and regularly caught up by phone or on social media – with their love gradually being rekindled.

Then Polly decided to visit Darryl in Northampton in summer 2017 – and has not looked back.

“He met me off the bus in the city centre and gave me this huge hug, then we went to his house, and I haven't left since," she said. “I didn't go there with the plan that we would get back together – it just happened naturally."

But things were not easy for the couple, as Darryl's PTSD meant he had frequent and terrifyingly vivid flashbacks.

“They were so lifelike that I'd even re-enact things in my sleep, like loading weapons or looking for snipers. It was as if I was sleep-walking," he explained. “It felt so real and I had this overwhelming urge to protect Polly."

With Polly's unwavering support and some time with a psychotherapist, Darryl began to conquer his demons. Then, in August 2018, a year after they had got back together, she defied tradition and asked him to marry her.

Polly and Darryl's wedding car (PA Real Life/Collect)

“It wasn't even a leap year – I just wanted to marry him," she said. “It was our anniversary, and I brought him breakfast in bed, and a card from me which had a ring inside."

Darryl added:

“She must have been pretty certain I'd say yes!"

Just like before, when they were teenagers, the couple took a while to find the courage to tell their family they were back together – although everyone welcomed the news wholeheartedly.

Polly on her wedding day (PA Real Life/Collect)

Eleven months later, on 13 July, 2019, Polly and Darryl finally tied the knot at Northampton's Guildhall, a beautiful grade two listed building.

To exchange vows, she wore a strapless white gown and flowing veil, while he donned full military dress. And both the ceremony and reception were full of nods to Darryl's time in the Forces.

“Our wedding car was a military vehicle covered in silk flowers and draped with a flag, and all the decorations, including Polly's flowers, were in military colors – red, white and blue," he explained. “We had our reception at Northampton Conservative Club, and a friend was the DJ."

Polly and Darryl with their daughters, Stacey (L) and Sophia (R) (PA Real Life/Collect)

He added:

“For our first dance, because I love to sing, I decided to serenade Polly with Enrique Iglesias' 'Hero'. It was an amazing day."

Now, as their first wedding anniversary approaches, the couple are reflecting on their incredible love story.

Darryl said:

“In the military, you're trained to have a pokerface, so I don't always show my feelings – but I know how I feel about Polly, and that's proud. I'm so honored to be back with her, and finally be her husband after all these years."

Polly and Darryl with childhood photos of one another (PA Real Life/Collect)

And Polly has never doubted her decision to marry her first love – even though it took her several decades to tie the knot.

She said:

“Darryl was my first love and I never forgot him. Now, I get to spend the rest of my life with him."
“After all those years, we found our way back to one another and we haven't spent a day apart since. It just goes to show – we were meant to be."