This was no ordinary wedding. After 46 years together, Bill and Ray decided they would tie the knot. Why? “Because we can”

said Ray, of Wagstaffe. “We have been very happy together, and now we are legally able to, so we thought let’s do this!” But there was a surprise in store for the happy couple.

They had found a celebrant online, and had a number of meetings with her in preparation for the big day. “She was lovely” said Bill, “And she delivered a beautiful service for us”.

Ray and Bill Wedding

It wasn’t until their best friend, Helen, was making a speech after the ceremony, and recounted where Ray had worked as a school teacher, some 40 years ago at Castlecove Primary School, that a shriek went up at the back of the hall.

It was Denise the celebrant who suddenly realised that the man she had just ‘married’ so to speak, was in fact her 5th Class Primary School teacher. “The world doesn’t get much smaller” said Ray, “And what was already a fantastic day, just got better”.

It got better this week too for two local charities.

Bill and Ray asked their 160 guests to donate, in lieu of gifts, to either Fairhaven, the local disability service in Point Clare or to Coast Shelter, helping the homeless in our community. They couple were married on the 24th February and they raised close to $2,500.

Sarah Williams of Fairhaven said “This was such a generous act and it seems more people are doing this sort of thing, whether it is a special birthday, the passing of a loved one or the wonderful celebration of marriage. It is so generous and such a wonderful way give to your local community.”

Whilst Ray and Bill usually support international charities such as MSF and Oxfam, Bill said “This time, we wanted to stay local.”

“Coast Shelter are an obvious choice, and we often drive past Fairhaven. When we visited recently we were so impressed with all the job opportunities and social activities they provide, for people living with disabilities, through their recycling and upcycling enterprizes.”

It was a long battle for marriage equality, and in this season of Mardi Gras and all that represents for celebrating diversity, equality and inclusion, this was a great expression of support and inclusion for both those living with disabilities in our community and those struggling with homelessness.