Stuart, 47, and Sarah, 41, met while they were working on a hospital ward in 2003. They live in New Zealand with their children and a puppy
Twenty years ago, Stuart felt stuck in a rut in his nursing job in Glasgow and decided it was time for a change. In May 2003, he went to New Zealand for a working holiday and to see more of the world. After three months, his savings ran out so he settled in Wellington and found a hospital job through a nursing agency.
At the end of that year, he met Sarah, who was working on the same ward. “I’d just finished my nursing training and was just enjoying the single life,” she says. Although she had seen Stuart around, it wasn’t until he asked a question about a medication chart that he really caught her attention. “When he spoke, I loved his accent.
It was like I was hit by cupid’s arrow,” she says. “Something happened in that moment.” She began to ask him what he was up to at weekends, and inviting him to join a group of colleagues for drinks, but Stuart says he never picked up the hint and thought she was out of his league.
He switched jobs and wards and they didn’t see each other for a while. Then, in early 2004, Stuart needed minor surgery. “I was told I’d have to stay in overnight unless someone could change my dressings the next day,” he says. “I was full of morphine and wearing pyjamas, but I put my rain jacket on over the top and shuffled up to Sarah’s ward to ask if anyone could help with the dressings.” When Sarah spotted him, she offered to assist. The next day, after the pain medication had worn off, he asked her out. “I’d liked her since I met her, but there was a sense of professionalism. By then I was working on a different ward, so it felt easier.”
They went out for coffee and have been inseparable ever since – three months later, they were living together. “He was really talkative and easy to get along with,” she says. Stuart liked that she laughed at his “inane jokes”. The couple have four children, born in 2005, 2007, 2011 and 2014.
From 2007, Stuart spent a few years as an estate agent, before returning to cardiothoracic nursing. Sarah moved to special baby care, and now works in paediatric community nursing. They were married in November 2008, close to where they live in Lower Hutt, a city in the Wellington region of the north island. “Some of my family, including my parents, brother, an aunt and a cousin managed to come, plus a few friends,” says Stuart. They live with their children and a puppy.
In the early stages of lockdown, Stuart’s father died after complications from an abdominal aneurysm. “I wasn’t able to fly out to see him or get to the funeral,” he says. “Sarah was a huge support through that, for me as well as the kids. They have a really good relationship with my parents, even though they are on the other side of the world.”
Perhaps because the couple work in the same profession, Sarah says they are able to talk about anything and often swap work stories. “We both love our family so much and he’s an amazing dad. Stuart is always putting us first.” Stuart admires his wife’s values. “She has a strong Christian faith which I don’t have, but I love the way she practises it in life. She’s incredibly compassionate and caring to other people.”