Love at first write in Oakham

Love at first write: Oakham couple’s pen pals turned partners story wins pub’s epic love stories competition

Tracey and Mark Taylor are celebrating winning a competition to find Rutland’s best epic love story.

The couple, who have been married for 23 years and moved to Oakham last year after Mark retired from the army, won a three-course dinner for two and overnight stay in a Valentine’s competition organised by Mill Street Pub & Kitchen in Oakham.

The Taylors’ romance blossomed when Tracey’s friend secretly put her forward for an appeal by The Sun newspaper for pen pals for soldiers on tour in Northern Ireland. Although annoyed at first that she had been put forward, when Tracey received her first letter from Mark, she thought there was no harm in replying.

Letters between the two soon turned to phone calls and when Mark, who was a chef in the army, was given leave he turned up at midnight at Tracey’s house in the North East and a week later the couple were engaged. They married within eight months of their first letter, with Tracey organising their wedding in County Durham while Mark was back on army duties.

Tracey, who works in the Reach team at Rutland County Council, says: “I had a good feeling about Mark from his first letter which was polite and nice and not all about him, but interested in finding out about me too. I lost my grandad and he sent me some lovely letters saying he was there for me. When we first spoke on the phone it was like we had known each other for years.”

She adds: “We make sure we go for a monthly date night, turn our phones off and focus on each other and had a date night a few weeks ago at Mill Street and loved it. So we were really delighted to win the competition and Mill Street will be our regular date night spot now.”

Mill Street Pub & Kitchen’s Chris Watson says: “We were really captivated by the Taylors story of old fashioned romance and are delighted to have given this lovely couple another date night. We offer an ideal atmosphere for couples at Mill Street, and whether they are on their first or 5,000th date we help ensure they have a special time together.”

The Taylors’ daughter Kinsey will be following in her parents’ footsteps when she marries her partner who is in the army at Rutland Water’s Normanton Church in July. Son Corey is also planning to join the army too.

Tracey’s tips for a successful relationship are: “Be who you are - warts and all. Realise that what you have is worth much more than any lottery win and you need to appreciate and be grateful for what you have in life. Never end the day on a cross word and keep making each other laugh.” The couple ended up living in Oakham, after 14 years living in Germany, when Mark, who is now a senior residential child support worker for Hillcrest Children Services, was posted for his final six months in the army in Melton Mowbray. After visiting friends in Spalding the Taylors’ sat nav got them lost and took them to Oakham and Rutland Water. Tracey says: “We loved it. It had a good feel and I believe in going with your heart. We are really happy here.”

As well as being a great date night venue, Mill Street Pub & Kitchen is also the ideal place to enjoy live entertainment with free live music nights being held from 9pm on Fridays in The Cavern bar and comedy nights also hosted there on the first Friday of every month from 8pm.

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