Little in life has come easily for Melton couple Peter and Maura Hutchinson, but their love has always persevered.
The pair celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on April 12, joining friends and family to look back on a life together that nearly never happened.
Peter suffered a stroke when he was just four years old, spending three weeks in a coma and a further three months in hospital in recovery.
Maura was born with cerebral palsy and had years of physical therapy to help her walk and talk.
When Peter met Maura in Armadale, he knew she was the woman for him.
“I used to catch the bus over to her place to see her, and then I’d sleep at the bus station ’till the next morning to see her again,” Peter said.
“Her family actually won Tattslotto and moved to Coolangatta – and I hitchhiked up there so I could see her.”
They married in Ballina in 1969 and in 1970 welcomed their son, Tony, into the world. He was followed in 1974 by daughter Kim.
The family settled in Melton in 1980 and expanded to include six grandchildren.
Peter said they never let their disabilities get in the way of enjoying a fulfilling life.
“It didn’t really make much difference to me – you just got on with it,” he said. “I worked everywhere and anywhere, and Maura would look after the kids at home so it was pretty good.”
Kim said life was pretty normal growing up, but she had been inspired by her parents as the years passed.
“They were always there for us, no matter what,” she said. “To me it was just a normal family. Mum was home and dad was off at work. But as I’ve got older I’ve appreciated them more because they’ve had to work harder than everyday people.
“I always tell people that my parents are handicapped and I’m very proud of them and what they’ve done over their lives.”
And the secret to five decades of marriage?
“Just be happy,” Maura said.