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Sunday, October 24, 2021

How we met: ‘I sent him a Facebook message by accident’

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When Joe was at university in 2010, his housemate went through a phase of logging into his Facebook page to play practical jokes. “He used to add random people as friends on my account. I think he thought it was funny because it made me look lonely,” he says. One day his housemate sent a friendship request to Beth, who accepted. “I saw that Joe was from Devizes in Wiltshire, which is near me, so I assumed I knew him from a night out,” she says.

They never spoke, and Beth soon forgot all about it. Joe had no idea she was on his friend list until April 2014, when she contacted him by accident. “I was arranging to meet my friend Jo and sent it to the wrong person,” says Beth. “Joe got in touch to tell me I’d made a mistake.” They struck up a conversation, and tried to work out how they knew each other. “Neither of us had any idea how we’d met. We didn’t work out what happened until years later,” laughs Joe.

Although they couldn’t place each other, they continued chatting online. “There was something about her sense of humour that drew me in,” says Joe. “I asked if she’d like to meet up.” A few days later they met at a train station, before going to a snooker hall in Chippenham. They clicked straight away. “It was so easy and comfortable and he seemed really caring,” says Beth.

The pair met up several times over the next few days, before he told her about his travel plans. “I’m a musician and I’d decided to travel to Cefalonia for the summer and play music in bars and restaurants,” he says. “I thought it was typical: I’d met this great person and now I was leaving. I told her it was a real shame as I didn’t want to end things.” They talked about the possibility of her joining him and the next day Beth sent a text to confirm she wanted to come. “I had some money saved up to travel so it made sense,” she says. She left her job as a breakfast chef at a hotel and they made plans to take the trip together.

As they’d only known each other a few days, breaking the news to their families was a challenge. “My mum wanted to meet her before we left and basically ended up giving her an interview,” laughs Joe. While Beth’s mum and stepdad were relatively relaxed about it, she knew her dad wouldn’t be happy. “I told him I knew Joe from the hotel so he wouldn’t worry. He didn’t find out the truth until our wedding. Luckily he saw the funny side.”

They spent the next few months touring Cefalonia, before travelling through Europe. “It was the best time of my life,” says Beth. They returned to Wiltshire and found a flat together. In 2016, they went back to Cefalonia for a holiday, where Joe proposed. The couple married the following summer in a village called Rowde, and held the reception at the cafe where Beth worked. “For our honeymoon, we built our own campervan and toured around Europe for three months,” says Joe.

Three years ago, Beth switched careers and is now an emergency responder for a company that helps older people to stay safe in their homes. Unable to perform music during the pandemic, Joe works on reception for an out-of-hours Covid service and runs a YouTube channel dedicated to woodwork and travel. They moved to their new home in Littleton Panell at the start of the year, with their puppy, Hans.

Joe believes his wife is the most selfless person he’s ever met. “Even at her worst points, she still thinks of others. Her job is the perfect fit and her patients all love her. She brightens everyone’s day.” Beth, meanwhile, loves her partner’s ability to succeed in any situation. “Nothing’s too hard for him. He can achieve anything he sets his mind to and he blows me away every time. We have a laugh together in everything we do.”

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