Northern Ireland

Love's lifelong bonds: Ballynahinch move for 91-year-old so he can be near his wife

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Media captionHerbie and Aileen Steele on their wedding day

Would you move mountains to be close to a loved one?

Herbie Steele, 91, did the next best thing - he moved house, from his family home in Killinchy, County Down.

Despite being blind, he bought a new home in Ballynahinch, County Down, to be beside his wife, Aileen, who has dementia and is being cared for in Oakridge Care Home.

Mr Steele said it was important to be near his wife, a woman he first met 71 years ago.

"(I moved) to be close to her," he said. "We were always very close. I'm happy to be close to her even though I can't be with her all the time.

"She knows I moved and that's about it. She knows very little.

"She's no memory at all - her memory's completely gone. Little or no talk out of her at all. And she's not able to walk now."

Despite health problems, Mr Steele said their relationship has been going strong for over seven decades.

He remembered the day the couple first met - in Ballynahinch on the night of VE Day, 8 May 1945.

Image caption Herbie Steele moved to be close to his wife Aileen who is in a care home

"We just seemed to fall in love with each other and that was that," he said. "It continued from there."


Recently, the future of Mrs Steele's care home, Oakridge, was under threat when the owner, Four Seasons, earmarked it for closure.

However, the home got a reprieve in December when new owners came forward.

Afterwards, Mr Steele expressed his relief to the Down Recorder newspaper.

That ensured that Mr Steele's move would be a success and allow him to visit his wife every day.

As he's blind, a neighbour helps him across the road to the home and makes sure he makes his daily visit.

However, Mr Steele said he was happy to stay close to Aileen but did not want to move into the home itself.

"I never asked whether it was an option," he said.

"I just preferred to live on my own than go into a home."

According to Mr Steele, his wife is happy and contented - and that's what makes him happy.

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