Well first we had better introduce ourselves as Chris & Norma Harvey, referred to on tv as quote
"The Grandaddy of all age -gaps!"
It all started in August 1996, when I was only 18 and Norma was 50. I was on a family holiday at Pwhelli Butlins in Wales. Now at some stage or another in teen years, its generally every young guys fantasy to date an older woman. But, even though i'd thought about it I never planned to act on it. Little did I know I was destined to meet an older woman who I would go on to marry!
It was Saturday Night and I had been in the nightclub. I could not keep my eyes off the woman who was on the dancefloor. I knew that she was older than me, but I thought I had no chance if I asked her to dance or anything like that. I wanted to ask her out, but I hesitated. I regretted not making a move instantly. She looked impeccable, beautiful and very classy with her dress. I wondered if I would see her again after she left the club.
I thought it would be a no, so I got talking to this girl. That night I spent the night with her, she was only 19. I spent most of the next day on my own, and had arranged to meet the girl in the nightclub. I met her and her family, and although I sat with them all evening there was no connection between me and her. We agreed there would be no relationship and i said goodnight.
As I walked over the small bridge back to the family caravan I noticed her. It was the woman from the night before. She was sitting on the wall opposite the restaraunt adjusting her shoe. I couldn't let the chance slip away again. I dont know where i got the courage, but I approached her. She must have thought I was well dodgy with my number 2 shaved head, and a really loud hawaiian shirt. As I drew nearer to her I thought she looked like a hollywood film star.
She was weary of me, but she smiled, and I came out with the corniest of lines. 'Hey love, you coming for drink then?' She laughed, and I persisted. 'Oh go on!' I said, 'You are on holiday!' We talked briefly and she said she couldn't, she was rubbing her foot due to dancing for too long. She was definitely not going to go back top the club with me, so I asked her name. 'Norma.' she replied.
I said I'd be polite and walk her to her chalet. 'I cant walk!' she said. I joked, 'I will give you a piggy back then!' She joked I'd drop her, but I said I must walk her back. She noticed I was interested in her, and she reciprocated. I strolled with her to her chalet and we chatted. I didn't want the conversation to stop when we got to her door. She opened it and went inside and I just stood there with my arm leaning on the wall. There was uncomfortable silence as we stared at each other for maybe ten seconds. Then she asked the magic question, 'Would you like to come in for a coffee?' I didn't need asking twice.
I spent that night with Norma, but in the morning I wondered whether she would really want to carry on seeing me. We knew there was an age difference, but neither of us told our real ages. Norma thought I was happy with the one night, and being young was maybe not interested in an older woman, and maybe not one with so many ties. She was in an unhappy marriage, and 27 years in she'd had enough. There were religious issues, and after ten years as a Jehovahs Witness she did not want to follow that faith any longer. Her husband at the time did not comply she was escaping.
I reassured her over the coming days as I found out things that I was not worried. I'd fallen in love with her, and any baggage didn't matter to me. At the end of that week I could not bear to say goodbye to her, and had trouble leaving. We lived 300 miles apart, me in Brighton, and Norma in Staylybridge near Manchester. We had a tearful goodbye. As I travelled home I wondered if we would see each other again.
Over the three weeks we were on the phone to each other for hours, literally! It was like we were continuing our dating, but only by voice. I needed to see her again, and when she said she was going away on another hol with her daughter, I asked if she would still call me during that time. She phoned on the Monday and told me her daughter had not been able to go. I asked her if I was to just turn up, could i stay? She said yes. She never knew I really meant it.
I packed quickly and made my way to the train station, but on the way I bought a diamond engagement ring. I surprised her only a few hours later. I crept up behind her in the arcade and she flung her arms around me. That night we were in the entertainment place and I hatched my plan. I came out from behind the curtain on the stage with a microphone in hand and called Norma to the stage. I got down on one knee and her asked to marry me. She said yes!
In October 1996 she moved to Brighton to live with me. People began to notice we had an age difference. Things were different then, and there were comments. It was okay for an older man to date a younger woman, but a taboo the other way around. After the News of The World broke a story on us on the 13th October 1996 the media showed immediate interest. To date this has not stopped and the press have followed us over the years in various forms. From our early stuff when people doubted our relationship would last, to the coverage of our wedding at the Royal Pavillion in Brighton in August 99. We have lived the last 13 years in news papers, magazines, tv debates, documentaries and radio interviews, and you could say our story is like an on going soap opera.
Over the years it has become more popular for an older woman to date a younger man, with the likes of Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, and Joan Collins who also shares a 32 year age-gap with her husband.
In 2005 it was leaked and reported that I once dated Jordan aka Katie Price when I was younger. I went to school with her and we did go out. it led to a lot of press articles, namely Reveal Magazine 2006, New Magaizine, and Full House. That year Norma also released a Charity CD titled 'Let The Be Love' containing ten classic swing and jazz songs in support of the International Glaucoma Association.
In November 2007 we renewed our wedding vows in a blessing ceremony at Stanmer House in Brighton. It was filmed and broadcasted for the BBC programme Inside Out.
In august 2009 Norma fell ill, and spent a lot of time in hospital. 17 weeks, and after a lot of recovery we are back finally back into the swing of things. We look forward to our up and coming projects so watch this space!
To date our media coverage is as follows.
Tv appearances include, This Morning, GMTV, Kilroy, Trisha, Vanessa, Talk To The Hand, London Tonight, Meridian News, Surviving Life, Moral Dilemmas, Diners, Afternoon Live, Lorraine Kelly, Esther, The Mag, One Life, Cradle Snatcher & Proud, The Strangest Couples in Britain, Family Confidential, Inside Out, Micheal Cole, & Old enough to be his mother.
Magazines include, Chat, Mizz, Reveal, Take a Break, New, Best, Bella,Woman, Womans Own, OK, Full House, Closer, Tv Mag, Tv Quick, Tv Weekly, Sun Tv, Radio Times, Tv Times, Insight, Latest, Sussex Weddings.
Newspapers Include - The News of the World, The Sunday People, The Sunday Mirror, The Mirror, The Daily Express, The Sunday Express, The Mail, Manchester Evening News, Metro, The Sport & The Argus.
Radio interviews include, BBC Southern Counties Radio, BBC Guildford,, Southern FM, Juice, Talk Radio, Talksport & Reverb.