Watch 70-year-old propose to girlfriend during Littlehampton concert after whirlwind romance

Pam Johnson, 68, and Ian Sheppard, 70
Pam Johnson, 68, and Ian Sheppard, 70

A 70-year-old received a standing ovation for proposing to his girlfriend during a charity concert in Littlehampton.

Pam Johnson, 68, put her romantic life aside to care for her mother for 20 years, and had given up on the idea of finding love until she met Ian Sheppard five years ago.

Ian Sheppard, 70, and Pam Johnson, 68

Ian Sheppard, 70, and Pam Johnson, 68

On Saturday, he serenaded her with You're The One by The Carpenters at The Power of Love charity concert at St James Church in East Ham Road, Littlehampton - and at the end, the 70-year-old got down on one knee and popped the question in a surprise proposal.

Pam said: "I feel complete; it is something I have always wanted. It is security.

"I do love him, and he loves me.

"We both have to keep pinching ourselves, like how did this happen to us?"

After losing a previous long-term partner to cancer in 2010, Ian was not about to let this second chance at happiness pass him by.

He said he was feeling nervous before the performance, but described it as 'in a word: perfect'. He said: "It was really a treasured moment."

Pam and Ian first met when she joined the Edwin James Festival Choir around five years ago.

Their friendship blossomed over coffees in Costa on Littlehampton High Street. But as Pam had never had a relationship before, the retired project manager said she was confused about her feelings towards Ian.

It was on July 27 last year, on the morning of a trip to Bruges in Belgium with friends, when they finally had 'the chat'.

Pam said: "It was about half 3 in the morning, and Ian knocked on the door. I thought all night that I had to work this out before we went away together for four days.

"So on my doorstep, I said to him: 'are we more than friends now?' and he immediately said 'yes'.

"I said: 'In which case, kiss me properly.' Ian said he was in this little warm glow on the way to the coach."

The couple will be getting married on August 3 at Worthing Registry Office, with a reception at the Bluebell Railway in Uckfield where Ian volunteers. Science-fiction writer Pam will be wearing a steampunk-themed dress.

They plan to honeymoon in Italy and Switzerland, travelling by train between countries.

Pam described her husband-to-be as a 'gentleman', and Ian said his future bride was 'gorgeous' and 'very loving'.

Regarding their age, Ian said: "There is no special age for marriage. It can happen at any time. Age doesn't matter."

Pam added: "After my mother died 14 years ago, I wanted to find somebody. I did all the online things, but I never got anywhere, never even a coffee, because most men were looking for younger women, so I thought I'd had it now.

"But then, it hits you out of the blue - you can't plan for it. It could just be somebody you have known for ages and you haven't seen them in that way before."

Among those in the audience at the concert was their mutual friend Jo Rea, who met the couple through the choir.

She said: "I have witnessed the romance of Ian and Pam blossom over the past few months and it has been the most beautiful thing.

"It was the worst-kept secret that Ian was going to propose, but it was such a joy and all the choir got up and cheered and clapped.

"We are all absolutely thrilled; they both deserve such happiness."

Concert organiser and friend Lorna Haynes helped Ian set up the proposal. She said: "It was very, very special, because they aren't teenagers; they are older people, and everyone's so delighted that they have found each other."

The concert helped raise over £1,700 for The Alzheimer's Society and Littlehampton's mayor transformed into his drag alter-ego for the night. Click here to read more.