When news happens, text SDE and your photos or videos to 80360. Or contact us by email and phone.
We found love through 'Undateables' dating charity
IT IS the ultimate Christmas present they have both always dreamed of.
For more than two decades, James Ducarreaux and Naomi Ross have spent every Christmas alone.
Neither of them have ever had a boyfriend or girlfriend.
But this year is different.
For the first time ever they have found love through a Hampshire charity which acts as a dating and friendship agency for people with disabilities - and they say they have never been happier.
“All I can say is Naomi has made my life complete and I’m going to have her all my life, I’m never going to let her go,” says James, 22, as he kisses Naomi’s head.
The couple, who can’t stop cuddling and giggling together, already have plans to wake up together on Christmas Day before exchanging gifts and tucking into a special breakfast of smoked salmon, bagels and champagne.
But all they really want for Christmas is each other.
“We feel really happy. James is staying the whole Christmas at my house,” shrieks Naomi, 27.
“It will be a Christmas to remember. I love her, she loves me.
"Our relationship is everything,” adds James.
Their happiness is thanks to charity Stars in the Sky in Fareham, the county’s only leisure, dating and friendship network for single people with learning difficulties and disabilities.
The organisation appeared on Channel 4’s hit show The Undateables, which highlights some of the complexities disabled people face when dating.
The Hampshire branch was set up by Fareham mum, Nicole Hamerton, inspired by the struggles of her autistic daughter, Hollie, and Nicole’s sister-in-law, Julie De-St-Aubin.
James and Naomi both have Down’s Syndrome and they know, first hand, just how complicated the dating world can be.
“To be honest, at school I said to mum I want a girlfriend. All my mates had girlfriends and I thought ‘I want that too’.
It was something I wanted more than anything and my mum said to me if she had a magic wand she would magic me a girlfriend from the cupboard.”
Naomi, from Lee-on-the-Solent who loves dancing, has never had a relationship either.
But their luck turned when they were introduced via the charity and were taken on a chaperoned date.
The organisation insists on chaperoning the singles on their first three dates to ensure the couple get to the vetted venue safely and are there for support in case anything goes wrong – even giving the singles a password they can use in case they feel uncomfortable.
James explains: “Before I thought, ‘what have I got myself into’ I thought ‘stay calm, you’re going to be okay!’ We had a few drinks and a chat and found out about each other and I thought I’ve just got to ask her out.
“I fell in love from the very start.
"I felt happy and knew she was the one.
"It was magical.”
The lovebirds couldn’t wait to see each other again and have been inseparable since.
Today they are celebrating nine months since they first met and in that time they’ve already enjoyed a holiday to Cornwall with their families, discos, games nights, karaoke evenings, bowling and trips to the cinema.
Naomi says: “James is very kind to me.
"He’s an important part of my life. He’s gorgeous and handsome.”
They can’t stop laughing as they discuss their perfect date – a romantic candlelit meal of sausages, baked beans and champagne.
In fact, they say they are so happy together, they hope one day to marry – despite the controversy they know surrounds their disabilities.
Nicole, who runs the charity that has more than 100 people on its books aged between 18 to 66, explains: “I think people with Down’s suffer a bigger stigma than our other guys with say autism.
"It seems to be the feeling that people with Down’s shouldn’t have relationships yet alone get married or have sexual relationships and that’s so wrong on every level. These guys are happy and they have every right to have a happy life like everyone else.”
James, who is very protective of Naomi, couldn’t agree more.
“This is our lives. We do what we want to do. I’d say to those people ‘stuff them all’ I just want to poke them on the nose.
"This is our relationship so don’t interfere. I don’t want anyone to say ‘why are you in a relationship?’ They are, so we can be too,” says James from Fareham who loves football and live music.
In fact, James and Naomi and both their parents are so passionate about the good work the Stars in the Sky charity does they have taken part in a number of events to fundraise vital money for the organisation.
“Without this group, it would be very difficult. It has made my life twice as complete,” explains James.
“From the start I didn’t have any friends and this club has made life easier. My life is really good and I’ve met some new friends.
“Stars improves your life dramatically and we need money for it pretty darn quickly because we want to keep it going. We want friends. We want boyfriends and girlfriends.
“For me and Naomi, it’s like a whole new chapter.
“I think this is it now, this is us.
“We’re going to settle down together and be married for years. I like The Undateables because it’s useful seeing other people with disabilities dating, but I can guarantee this will be the best couple yet.
"I swear we will always be together.”
Can you help?
STARS in the Sky has issued a desperate plea for funding.
The charity, which holds about ten social events a month ranging from discos to sex education workshops and Christmas parties, say they have dozens of forms landing in the office from disabled people looking for love in Southampton.
But without funding it is difficult to take on new members and continue hosting the events.
Nicole and Julie, who run the charity, have become so desperate, they have not taken a wage for over a year.
Nicole Hamerton and sister-in-law Julie De-St-Aubin with Joe Sweeney and Christina Corp who also met through the charity.
Nicole, said: “The Undateables is due back on screen soon and we are inundated by requests.
“We are trying very hard to stay afloat with funds diminishing fast.
It is very difficult times.”
To help with funding or to support a Christmas event including the charity’s Christmas meal with carols on December 7 or the Christmas prom on December 15 go to starsintheskyhants.co.uk or call 01329 826423.
Comments are closed on this article.