A PENSIONER has been forced to defend her 25-year age gap marriage after cruel critics told her she should ‘be ashamed’ of herself.
Sprightly 70-year-old Carole Hills married her 45-year-old toyboy husband Paul, 22 years ago, and insists that their relationship is still going strong.
The pair, from Colchester, Essex, have been inseparable since meeting 24 years ago when Paul was a 21-year-old musician.
In 1992, Paul caught Carole's eye when she was volunteering as a promoter that helped unknown artists get on their feet.
Paul, who is not currently working, explained how their relationship soon blossomed as they “became friends and started meeting up for drinks and food”.
He said: "Everything changed on one drunken night while we were walking home hand in hand and she told me she wanted to take me to bed.
"I was a little shocked at first and thought she was too old for me, but deep down I knew I really liked her.”
Sugar-mum Carole was Paul’s first partner, and he admits that at first he struggled to keep up with her demanding sexual requests.
Paul claims: "I don't think people realise that Carole wasn't old when I met her, in fact she was a sex addict back then and she really used to tire me out.
"We used to go into different parks and make love - we were caught a couple of times by security and asked to leave but it was such a thrill.”
From the very beginnings of their relationship, the couple had to fight back against criticism, as one passer-by jeered that Carole was old enough to be Paul’s mum.
Carole said: “On our first date in public people were staring at us and making snide remarks, eventually it got too much and I had to tell them to mind their own business.”
Paul’s mum questioned whether it was the right decision to marry with such a big age gap, even telling her son that it wasn’t too late to end the relationship.
Even some of his friends were unsupportive of the match, with Paul adding: "A friend once told me that I shouldn't be 'shagging a granny'.”.
Despite opposition to their engagement, the pair finally tied the knot in 1994.
The couple have stayed together for 24 years, but still regularly receive abuse when they are spotted out in public together.
Cougar Carole won’t let critics get in her way, commenting: “We love each other so we don't care what people think, even when I see him now my heart still skips a beat – we are true soulmates."
Caring Carole has been there for Paul since he was diagnosed with osteoarthritis and helps Paul with his medical problems despite being a pensioner who is 25 years older.
She said: "Sometimes it's been difficult, like when Paul became ill, I expected to have a toyboy and now I'm looking after him - he even got his bus pass before I did.”