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EDITIONS
Friday, 15 March, 2002, 13:00 GMT
To have and too old
Peter Wellens and Ellen Channon
The couple had hoped to marry in summer 2002
A minister has refused to marry a couple because the bride-to-be is 27 years older than the groom.

Peter Wellens, aged 27 and Ellen Channon, aged 54, had been looking forward to getting married at Besses O' Th' Barn United Reformed Church in Whitefield, Greater Manchester, this summer.

But according to the local minister that age gap is too great for them to form a successful marriage.

The Reverend Ruth Wollaston told the couple in a letter she felt "the considerable difference in age... makes marriage ill-advised".

'Broken heart'

Mr Wellens, of Webster Grove, Prestwich, Greater Manchester, said: "I am with the woman I love and she loves me, that is all that matters.

"Age has nothing to do with it - you certainly cannot tell which marriages are going to work, and which will not."

Miss Channon said: "I was absolutely shattered. It broke my heart, and knocked the stuffing out of me."

Reverend Ruth Wollaston
The Reverend Ruth Wollaston was worried

Because Miss Channon is divorced, the couple were called in to see Mrs Wollaston for an interview.

Miss Channon said: "She kept asking about my age, and what would Pete do when I got old and he was in his prime?

"She told us she had married a couple where a man was older than the girl and it hadn't lasted, and she wasn't going to do that again.

"But you can't judge everyone on that."

Mrs Wollaston said she consulted colleagues before making her decision, and that they agreed with her stance.

She said: "I was worried about the age difference, but I simply did not feel they were prepared for marriage.

'Old lady'

"It is very rare that I do this and I think I am quite liberal, but something was not right.

"When he is 60 she will be 86 and might be a little old lady in a home. If it all went wrong, people would ask why the church did it."

Moderator Peter Brain, head of the United Reformed Church in the North West, said each minister can decide whether or not to marry a couple.

Joan Ashworth, secretary of the United Reformed Besses O'Th' Barn Church said: "We agree with what Ruth said. She is doing the wedding service, it is up to her."

The couple are now hoping to find another church to get married.


Talking PointTALKING POINT
Age-gap bride
Can marriages survive age differences?

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12 Mar 02 | England
04 Mar 02 | Entertainment
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