Friendship club founder seals love match

Wedding at the Mid Sussex Golf Club in Ditchling for Ann and Brian. Photo courtesy of Paul Fletcher.
Wedding at the Mid Sussex Golf Club in Ditchling for Ann and Brian. Photo courtesy of Paul Fletcher.

When Tricia Bentley helped to co-found friendship club ‘The Group’ she had no idea she would be ‘marrying’ the first of its members to tie the knot.

Tricia officiated as a civil celebrant after love blossomed for Haywards Heath couple Brian Druery and Ann Hughes.

Tricia is a former registrar with East Sussex County Council and conducted Ann and Brian’s marriage celebration at Mid Sussex Golf Club, with ten bridesmaids looking on and a guest appearance from Brian’s cuddly Bichon Frise dog (pictured).

Ann said: “It was such a wonderful day and very relaxed. We exchanged rings and vows in front of Tricia and we had ten bridesmaids - eight of them were my grand-daughters and two were Brian’s.

“My grandson, who is 12, gave me away, and afterwards I had a surprise honeymoon in Barcelona. It was all very romantic.

“We met through The Group two years ago and Brian asked me out at a dance.

“He had been a widower for six years and I think his family said ‘Come on dad - you’ve got to get out more’ and pushed him into The Group!”

Tricia Bentley added: “The Group is not a dating agency but, of course, everybody is delighted that a couple of our members have found happiness with one another.

“It was a real honour to be asked by Ann and Brian to conduct the ceremony. I stopped being a registrar three years ago and I am now an independent celebrant.

“Brian and Ann had their legal ceremony at Lewes Register Office in the morning and I performed a more meaningful celebration for them afterwards.”

As a civil celebrant, Tricia could not perform the legal part of the wedding but she was able to make the marriage celebration in the afternoon special to Ann and Brian.

Civil celebrants are often called upon to conduct humanist or non-religious ceremonies, and Tricia conducts funerals and baby-naming ceremonies as well as marriage celebrations.

The Group was founded in Haywards Heath in 2006 and now has five separate branches. Most of its members are aged 45 and over and meet for meals and other social events. Go to: www.thegroup.org.uk