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Couple who met in The Virchy, Liverpool’s lockdown virtual pub, tie the knot in Gretna Green

2 years ago

Couple who met in The Virchy, Liverpool’s lockdown virtual pub, tie the knot in Gretna Green

A couple who met at the Liverpool virtual pub, The Virchy, have tied the knot in Gretna Green.

Joanne Ashcroft and Martin Davis both joined the group on Facebook in April 2020, not long after the first Covid lockdown came in.

When Joanne posted one Friday night, jokily asking if anyone fancied buying her a vodka and Coke, Martin was quick to reply.

The pair started messaging and before the end of the night, the offer of a virtual drink had turned into a real-life one.

Now more than two years later, Joanne and Martin are engaged to be married and have celebrated their relationship by tying the knot in a traditional handfasting ceremony in Gretna.

“We’ve both said all along we must be destined to be together because under normal circumstances we’d never have met,” says Joanne, 48. “He lives in Skelmersdale and I’m in West Derby, which is only half an hour away but our paths would probably never have crossed. The Virchy brought us together and it was obviously meant to be.”

Joanne, who has two grown-up sons and a seven-year-old daughter Bella, says she wasn’t looking to find a partner when she clicked yes to a friend’s request to join The Virchy.

“I’d been on my own about three years and I was quite happy that way to be honest.

Joanne and Martin at Gretna Green 2

“I saw people posting, and there was live music on a Friday and Saturday night, and I thought it was such a good idea because it just made everything seem so much better. We were all stuck in lockdown but it made you feel like you weren’t on your own going through things. 

“I’d never put anything on there before, but this night my little girl had gone to her dad’s, and I was feeling a bit down. I put a post on saying ‘I’m on my way, can someone get me a vodka and Coke please?’ Martin happened to be on at the same time and replied, ‘Dbl?’ and it just went from there.

“We’ve looked back over the comments, they are a bit cheesy and embarrassing, but then in that first conversation he said, ‘maybe we could go for a proper drink when this madness is over?’.

“I’m normally quite reserved but it just felt right. I thought it probably wouldn’t go anywhere, but other people were commenting so I suggested it might be easier if we private messaged.

“I checked his Facebook first, obviously, but then we became friends and started chatting away from the group. A few weeks in, the messaging started getting a bit more romantic and I looked forward to getting a message from him every morning. At that point I started to think, maybe there’s something more in this than just a bit of flirting.”

The couple met in person for the first time on a day out in Southport that summer. “I drove because I thought if I pulled up and didn’t like him I could always run round and come back!” laughs Joanne.

“But it was just instant. The minute he got in the car, I felt like I’d known him all my life. There was no question of not being sure. I think the way we originally met really helped because we already knew so much about each other.”

The Virchy

Joanne and her daughter regularly face-timed Martin and his five children, aged 11 to 21, to get to know each other.

And they got on so well that by October 2020, 46-year-old Martin popped the question in an unexpected way.

“We were out at the Albert Dock, and we’d bought one of the love locks and had it engraved. We were looking for somewhere to eat but it was really busy because everyone was making the most of Eat Out To Help Out. I could see he was starting to panic a bit, but we managed to get a table at What’s Cooking. Because of Covid rules, you had to order via the app on your phone. I had a better phone so I did that, and he said he’d transfer the money.

“He kept asking me to check it had gone through and I was saying, ‘it’s fine, I trust you’. Eventually, I went on to my banking app and he’d put the money in with the reference Will You Marry Me

“When I looked up from my phone, he was holding out the ring.”

Joanne and Martin have been through tough times together since, with the sudden death in an accident of his 12-year-old son Logan in September last year.

The Virchy

Losing Logan was one of the reasons why they were so keen to have their Gretna ceremony.

“We can’t afford to get married at the moment, but Logan always wanted us to be married so this was our way of showing that commitment to each other, for him and our other children as well. We wanted the children to know we are one big family now.”

As for The Virchy, they’re both still members and Joanne says she’s grateful she took the leap and made that first post.

“That’s the best vodka and Coke he’s never actually bought me. But when we celebrated our ceremony he did buy me one, and made it a double!”

By Dawn Collinson

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