Becky Hines, 41, and her gardener fiancé Olly Smith, 42, from Norfolk, dated years ago before going their separate ways. But they were reunited, have since had a baby daughter and are getting married. Here Becky shares her story…
“Last month, Jennifer Lopez announced she was engaged to Ben Affleck for the second time, and I couldn’t help grinning.
My life as an ordinary Norfolk mum, living with my fiancé Olly, is a far cry from Hollywood. But like the celebrity couple, I’ve learned that the path of true love doesn’t always run smoothly.
J.Lo and Ben split in 2003, both marrying and having kids with other people, before reuniting years later. The exact same thing happened to me and Olly – albeit without the media attention!
Olly and I met at school but he was two years older than me and, while we knew a lot of the same people, we never really got to know each other. It wasn’t until 2005, when I was 24, that we started hanging around in the same circles.
Olly was such a nice guy and people always said how friendly and kind he was. Before we even dated, my sister said to me, “Olly Smith – he’s marriage material.”
When I saw him in the pub I’d think, “Oh, I hope he comes over.” And when he did, the chemistry sizzled.
I’m sure lots of couples say this about themselves, but we felt a little different… We’re both introverted at heart, so while we’d go out in a group, we’d end up breaking off and chatting, just the two of us in our own little world.
By early 2006 we were blissfully dating. He was a gardener and I worked at a horse sanctuary, so we shared a love of the outdoors. We loved camping trips and festivals.
We laughed constantly and talked about getting married. So when we broke up just before Christmas in 2006, it was really hard.
We were still young, Olly didn’t want to move out of Norfolk because of his business, while I was desperate to travel and see the world. It’s been rumoured the opposite was true of our celebrity counterparts – Jennifer was the one keen to settle down, while Ben Affleck wasn’t ready. Sometimes the person is right but the timing is wrong.
Olly and I both needed to go on our own paths, have other relationships and grow into ourselves. I went to Greece for a year, met a guy from New Zealand, and we ended up returning to the UK and getting married.
Olly also did his own thing before meeting someone else, having a daughter, Annabelle, in 2013 and getting hitched. Life had moved on.
My husband Tim and I spent months living apart because of visa issues, so it was a strange and strained marriage. When he eventually moved to the UK for good, my brother – also called Olly – had been diagnosed with cancer.
My brother died in 2017. I remember standing next to my husband at the funeral thinking, “I don’t want you here. You don’t feel part of my world.” It felt wrong. We broke up shortly afterwards.
I later heard through my sister, who bumped into Olly from time to time, that he’d split from his wife the year before. Hearing that news gave me a weird sensation in my tummy.
Olly’s since told me he always felt something awkward in his own marriage too, something not quite right between them.
My brother’s death made me realise “life’s too short”. I’m not an impulsive person but I started dreaming about running into Olly.
We only lived 10 minutes apart but almost never crossed paths. I’d only seen him once, with his daughter when she was aged three, in the garden centre.
One day I asked a mutual friend for Olly’s number, messaged him “Hey, how are you?” and held my breath. To my surprise, he replied, “How lovely to hear from you,” and agreed to come over a week later.
I was so nervous. Seeing him walk up to my front door felt so familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. Half of me expected him to hug and kiss me, like he did when he was my boyfriend 12 years earlier, but of course he didn’t. He seemed serious, which felt weird, but he pretty much looked the same, albeit a little smarter and grown up. I’d taken ages with my effort to dress “casually”.
“So, what have you been up to?” I asked him, and that was it – we didn’t stop talking until 3.30am about life, love and our failed relationships. Even in the first five minutes of seeing him, it felt easier than it ever had with my ex-husband. It felt so natural, so “right”.
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Nothing happened physically that night, we just talked and reminisced about the past. I felt that same spark, he was still the same person at his core. But we were both older and wiser, and Olly had a daughter to think about.
Despite that, we acted like teenagers again. We even slip in a tent in my garden to recreate old times. It was like everything and nothing had changed.
Olly’s daughter was five when we reunited, so he was understandably mindful about me meeting her. When the time was right, in summer 2018, Olly introduced us. We played “guess the animal” by acting them out and Annabelle said, “You’re my new friend, Becky!” It was very natural.
Olly and I moved in together in August 2019 and a few months later, I was pregnant. Eleanor will be two this month and it’s lovely watching her and Annabelle together.
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In July last year, Olly and I had a night away in a gorgeous windmill. I saw an aeroplane above and joked, “Where’s the ‘I love you’ banner floating behind it?” Olly went quiet, picked a wild flower and said, “Well, actually, I was going to ask you, will you marry me?” We’re planning a woodland wedding with a festival feel next summer.
Olly was always “’the one who got away” and now I feel so blessed that we have a second chance to love each other. I’m sure “Bennifer” feel the same.
Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing, otherwise we might not be where we are today.
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