'I thought I'd never find love': Wedding day delight for groom with rare bone condition
Richard George didn’t think he would ever get married.
Born with rare brittle bone disease, the teaching assistant from Pelsall was only given two days to live – but now, 31 years later he has just said “I do” on the happiest day of his life.
And he is now urging other members of the disabled community to “never give up” on their dreams.
“I went through a part of my life when I thought this was never going to happen, I would never find love,” he said.
“But it found me once I stopped looking. It happened. So never give up hope.”
Richard was married on Friday at St Martin’s Church in Walsall to New Cross Hospital doctor and the love of his life Alice Everard, who he met about four years ago.
'Happiest day of my life'
He said: “It was the happiest day of my life.
“I grew up in a mainstream school and all my friends had girlfriends and it was always something I wondered about. Would I ever find anyone I would end up marrying, with my condition?
“But then finding someone who can see past that, who can see the person, it’s amazing.”
Richard was born in 1988 with the extremely rare condition Osteogenesis Imperfecta 3, or brittle bone disease.
During the course of his life he also suffered from eye ulcers, a double hernia and scoliosis of the spine – on top of having more than 160 bone fractures. He underwent numerous major operations – including having part of a calf bone put operated onto his spine to give it extra strength.
But despite this, Richard has tried to live as normal a life as possible. His parents enrolled him in mainstream schools including Tameside, St Michael’s High School and then Walsall College.
Love via a new chair
In 1992, a £10,000 appeal was launched to buy him a turbo wheelchair to give him a new lease of life – and residents in the Black Country and further afield rallied round to raise the cash in just five months.
And he is now a special needs teaching assistant at his former school St Michael’s – and also plays wheelchair football for West Bromwich and has trialled for the England team.
He met his now wife Alice, age 31, after contacting a Cambridge business to trial a new special type of wheelchair which he needed to play wheelchair football.
Alice’s mother, the business owner, visited Richard to let him trial the chair – and Alice, by chance, accompanied her.
Richard said: “I went outside to test the new chair, I remember it was really hot. And Alice was sitting in the van waiting for her mum. So I said to her she should come in for a cup of tea, and then we just got talking.
“I always used to joke that the best person for me to marry was a doctor, and now I have.”
Richard’s mother Andrea George, age 68, said the family were “so proud” of everything he had done.
She said: “He’s been through all sorts of things. It has been very stressful for the family and Richard over the years.
“We always wanted him to be independent if he could – his brain was fine, it was just his body that was different. He went to Tame Side School and they adapted the school for him – and he said going there was the best thing ever, he really loved it.
“He’s extremely independent. We never ever thought he would get married – but along came a girl called Alice and she saw through his differences and the rest is history.”