A COUPLE with Downs syndrome have renewed their wedding vows after 20 years of marriage to show those who said it would never last just howwrong they were.

Maryanne, 44 and Tommy Pilling, 57, first met at the Maybrook day centre in Southend, 25 years ago and tied the knot in 1995.

However, they were subjected to torrents of criticism because of their condition, with many saying their relationship was impossible.

But the couple are still going strong and on Saturday they proved people wrong by walking up the aisle of St Mary’s Church in Shoebury to renew their vows.

Lindi Newman, 27, Mrs Pilling’s sister, who lives opposite the couple in West Road, Shoebury said: “They renewed their vows because they had so much trouble from people around them who said it was terrible they were going to get married and asked our mum Linda what she thought she was doing by allowing the wedding to go ahead.

“This is a big milestone for any couple let alone them. They wanted to show how wrong those people were. They’ve been so happy together.

“They are completely devoted and totally in love. They argue like any couple and Maryanne gets jealous if Tommy talks to another lady and he gets jealous if she talks to anyone, but they are so happy together.”

The couple have managed to live an independent life in their own flat under the watchful eye of Mrs Newman and Linda Martin, 65, Maryanne’s mum who lives next door.

They celebrated after their service at the Freight House in Rochford with 130 of their close family and friends. They have guests came from as far as America, Enfield, Kettering and Staffordshire.

Sadly Tommy has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease so the event was even more poignant.

Mrs Martin said: “It was wonderful.

They danced all night and only stopped to eat and everyone said how great it was.

“When Tommy was diagnosed we took him to Graceland because he loves Elvis. We got him an Elvis impersonator as a surprise and he loved that.

“It has proved that 20 years on it has worked. They are even more devoted now than when they first married."