How we met: ‘He used to annoy me. I was really small and he was always picking me up’
As a teenager growing up in Manchester, Priscilla was a big fan of CB radio. The system, which was designed for truck drivers to communicate, became a craze at her school in the 90s. “I convinced my mum to buy one,” she remembers. “It had 40 channels and there was one where you could shout out to speak to other people and move to another channel for a chat.” As with modern social media accounts, users chose a handle for themselves.
In 1996, she started talking to Anthony and they bonded over their shared love of happy hardcore music. “My handle was Ecstasy and his was Haçienda,” she laughs. Around the same time, Anthony became friends with a boy who lived close to Priscilla. “I saw her one day when I was with him and he told me that was Cilla AKA Ecstasy from the radio,” he says. “I’d not seen her before, so didn’t know what she looked like. I liked her straight away. She was beautiful.”
In early 1997, they met in Heaton Park through an “eyeball”, where people who talked via the radio channel agreed to meet in a public place. “It was safer to meet in a big group, because you could have been chatting to anyone on there,” says Anthony. Although he fancied Priscilla, she wasn’t interested. “I was having none of it,” she says. “He used to annoy me. I was really small and he was always picking me up.”
Anthony admits his 90s flirting moves weren’t good. “I could never talk to girls, so I just acted the clown.” Over the next two months, they got to know each other. “We were always knocking around the streets in a big group,” says Priscilla. “We both grew up with single parents and I realised we had a lot in common. I started to like him.” They officially became a couple in March that year. “I remember it because I had dressed up as Baby Spice for Comic Relief,” she says.
As a young couple, they spent their weekends going to Blackpool or hanging out with friends. “We would be out drinking on the streets in Middleton and New Moston when we shouldn’t have been,” says Anthony. They also enjoyed visits to the working men’s club to watch football. In 2002, they moved into a flat together. Anthony worked in a factory as a data engineer and in 2003 Priscilla began her midwifery training. During her final year of study, her stepdad died suddenly from a heart attack. “I wouldn’t have been able to get through the training without Ant,” she says. “He supported me.” She got a job at North Manchester general hospital in 2007, before becoming pregnant with her first child. The couple now have three sons, who are 13, 12 and eight.
Life became more complicated in 2010, when Anthony’s father was diagnosed with throat cancer. He had a stroke shortly afterwards and needed ongoing care. “It changed everything overnight,” says Priscilla. “We were working, taking care of the kids and his dad. We’d be in bed, shattered, by 10pm every night.”
Despite the challenges, they found time to enjoy family life. In 2018, they got engaged at their favourite holiday spot in Abersoch, Wales. “Our oldest boy was with us when Anthony proposed,” says Priscilla. “He produced this ring from under the bubbles in the hot tub and our son was running off to top up our prosecco glasses.”
During lockdown, Anthony’s father died after getting cancer again. “Priscilla was amazing. She made it possible for me to be able to look after my dad all these years. I’ll be for ever in debt to her,” he says. They plan to marry when they can afford a wedding. “We like to give the kids the things we never had growing up, so we never have time to save,” says Anthony.
The couple have always shared similar values, beliefs and politics. “We’re both big Labour supporters,” says Priscilla. “We can look at each other and know what the other is thinking.” Anthony says he knew his partner was different the day they met. “She’s always been there. I can’t believe she’s stuck with me.”