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B.C. widow finds unexpected love while performing in blind choir

Saanich, B.C. -

Before she experienced the worst year of her life, Debbie Barnswell simply sang for fun.

“Singing brings joy,” she says.

It wasn’t until she lost her husband of 32 years and diabetes stole her sight that Debbie found singing could also provide comfort.

“I felt like a bit of the emptiness was gone,” she says.

So Debbie decided to join a choir for the visually impaired.

“It gave me something I so desperately needed,” she says.

Fellow singer Bryan Barnswell says he’ll never forget how it felt to harmonize with Debbie for the first time.

“Really wow!,” he smiles. “She caught my attention right away.”

And Debbie will never forget how fun it was to talk together with Bryan between practices.

“I always love his sense of humour,” Debbie laughs.

They became fast friends. But then, months later, Debbie started feeling awkward.

“I had butterflies in my stomach,” she says. “I certainly wasn’t in my 20s anymore.”

She felt apprehensive about pursing a romantic relationship until Bryan had to miss their regular walks together due to a hospital stay.

“When I got back, she squealed very loudly,” Bryan says with a smile.

Debbie realized she was experiencing what she never thought she would again — love.

“Bryan brought fulfillment in my life that I had missed,” Debbie says.

So she confronted her fears and the couple started officially dating for about a year. Then, one day, Debbie heard an unexpected sound.

“I was wondering why there was a horse in that area,” Debbie recalls.

After surprising Debbie with a carriage ride, Bryan got down on his knee and slipped a ring on her finger.

“She was laughing, saying ‘Yes,’” Bryan smiles. “It was great.”

Debbie says she felt like Cinderella in a dream come true.

“I realized, 'This really is happening,'” she giggles.

The choir that first brought them together provided the soundtrack to Debbie and Bryan vowing to stay together forever.

During the wedding reception, the couple took centre stage, and sang a duet of “(Love Lifts Us) Up Where We Belong.”

“It’s exciting!” Debbie says of their love story.

“Anything is possible,” Bryan adds. “Love never ends.”

They say that if you have the courage to open your heart, you just might find it harmonizing an enduring melody. Top Stories

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