St. Cuthbert’s Church Brunswick

Parish of Christ the King

Diocese of Newcastle

19 February 2016

God is love, and those who live in love live in God and God lives in them 1 John 4:16.

An article appeared as the feature letter in the Daily Mail recently, about the wedding of the Socialite heiress Millie Mackintosh and the music star, rapper Professor Green, (real name Stephen Manderson). It was quoted by a source that there had been ‘an air of caution’ throughout their relationship as he is from a different world. She is heiress to £1.4 million, educated at a string of private schools, while he is a former drug dealer who grew up on a East London council estate and doesn't have a GCSE to his name.

While I agree the cultural clash between the two families could not be greater, does that mean the marriage is doomed to failure?

I have been married 29 years. We have four children, two grown up and twin boys aged eleven. When I met Lesley in 1980, she was studying at University and came from a middle class background. I had only just come out of a mental hospital having tried to commit suicide. Childhood abuses and time spent in care from the age of 3 to 17 had sent me on a spiral of decline to the point that I had no job, no qualifications and for a short time was homeless. We met while helping in a church soup kitchen in Chester. Lesley initially thought that I was one of the homeless and offered me a bowl of soup. From the start I fancied her and set about wooing her.

It soon became the talk of the university that the rather dishevelled strange young man who had been in a mental hospital was stalking a student. When Lesley announced she was actually going out with me her friends and the minister of the local church tried to talk her out of it saying “you are from different worlds„” But we had fallen in love and soon set a date for our wedding.

Letter from the Vicarage October/November 2013

My future in-laws, although naturally concerned considering the gulf between me and their daughter, were always very supportive and none judgmental. We married in 1984 and lived in a bed sit. Our honeymoon was a week in Anglesey and we went by bus. We didn't have two pennies to rub together. Both of us by then were committed Christians. Twenty-nine years later we are still  happily married. I am not saying that the path has been smooth, because clearly it hasn't, but the issues were all on my side. Lesley, for her part, accepted me for who I was, warts and all. Central to our marriage is our faith; it’s the glue that has kept us together throughout many challenges trials and tribulations. Lesley married me and my baggage and it was quite a shock to her to discover just how damaged I was. Her unconditional love has helped me heal the effects of an abusive past.

I pay tribute to a Yorkshire lass who married a mixed up young man from the wrong side of the tracks. She is the closest I can  get to God with skin on, my angel, my soul mate, my friend, my lover, my wife. It is on that basis that I believe that the gulf between the Socialite heiress Mille Mackintosh and Stephen Manderson need not be a barrier to a happy long and successful marriage

Rev’d Mark