Two weeks ago Daniel and I were filmed on camera talking about how we fell in love for a video Mencap made for Valentine's Day all about love, relationships and learning disability. 18 months before this before this Daniel and I got married. However three years ago Daniel and I didn't think any of this would be possible, after being told we wouldn't be allowed to get married and if the Vicar did marry us he could be prosecuted.
Like many married couples we fell in love straight away. The only difference was that we both have a learning disability. We met at a day centre and started to spend a lot of time together. Eventually Daniel got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. It was one of the happiest days of my life. Soon after came one the worst days of my life however. Our local authority forced me to take a mental capacity test - and then told me I didn't have capacity to decide to marry the love of my life.
I know that the majority of people with a learning disability aren't married, but I also know we have the same right to do so as anyone else. Unfortunately not everyone agrees with this. Just imagine if you were told by the government who you could or couldn't love and get married to.
I couldn't understand what was happening. I had heard stories and dreamt of how people fall in love and plan their wedding days and live together for the rest of their lives. My sister had fallen in love and got married and she has her own life and I wanted my own life too. I think you can see from Mencap's video how in love Daniel and I are, and despite everyone who knew us agreeing I had a strong understanding of marriage and love I was told we were not fit to get married.
I don't think anyone can understand the heartbreak and frustration to have your dreams swept from your feet like that. Luckily for us we had help from Mencap and after an awful series of meetings and being assessed the local authority took back their decision and said we could get married.
I still don't really know why they wanted to stop Daniel and I from getting married, but I do know there are some bad attitudes out there towards people with a learning disability. We have as much as right to get married as anyone else and as you can see from the couples in Mencap's video we fall in love for the same reasons, disability or not. The only difference is that we may need a bit more support along the way.
With help from my Mum Lesley and Daniel's Mum we were able to plan the perfect wedding day. I even got to sing My Guy to Daniel in front of everyone which brought the place to tears. Since getting married my mum Lesley has helped us out a lot. Like other couples with a learning disability we have dreams and desires to go places and be independent, but sometimes we need a bit of extra help.
For our honeymoon we wanted to do something extra special because of how stressful the past year had been. With the help of my Mum we were able to go to Devon and Daniel and I stayed in our own wing of a holiday house, with my Mum in the other wing. We live independently in our own flat within the house where my Mum lives. For Valentine's Day Daniel wants to surprise me and I know the two of them have been planning something and I can't wait to see what they've got in store.
We're married, live in our own home and get to do exactly what we want to do and choose how to live our married lives. This isn't the case for everyone with a learning disability however. People don't always understand what people with a learning disability can and can't do, but it should be up to us, and not other people how we live our lives.
I hope this Valentine's Day people will watch Mencap's video and understand that people with a learning disability are the same as everyone else, we fall in love in the same way, we annoy each other in the same way - want to get married in the same way - and have the same rights as everyone else. It doesn't matter if you have a learning disability, you're still a human being with feelings and desires and it's time everyone in society realised that.