How we met: ‘Losing my wife and child was very hard. Then Rhiannon came into my life’

In the early 00s, Rhiannon was a big fan of dark wave goth music. In 2010, she joined an online forum to follow German band Deine Lakaien. “I was living in London and working in a university,” she says. “I had studied languages in the past and thought joining the group would be a good way to improve my German, as well as learn more about the band.”

Through the forum Rhiannon, who is from Shropshire, soon met Dirk. He lived in Rödermark, near Frankfurt, and worked in logistics. “My hobby was writing about bands and taking pictures of them for different blogs and forums,” he says. “My friend had told me about this band because the singer had such a special voice. I wasn’t that into dark wave music, but this particular singer was really good.” Dirk and Rhiannon began to chat online, in German, and learned more about each other. At Christmas, Dirk gave Rhiannon a traditional festive Christstollen cake. “I’d asked her if she had ever tasted one and she said no, so I decided to send her one,” he says. “The way she wrote to me was very open and kind.”

At the time, Dirk was slowly opening himself up to the possibility of a new relationship. He had lost his pregnant wife and three-year-old child in a car accident in his 20s, and given up on the idea of finding love again. “It was very hard and I was depressed for a long time,” he says. “But after so many years alone, I decided I did want to meet someone and then Rhiannon came into my life.”

They built a strong friendship online, before agreeing to meet in person at the Amphi music festival in Cologne in July 2011. “I definitely thought he was The One straight away,” says Rhiannon. Dirk felt the same way about her. “Later, while we were sightseeing, it started raining. We found a dry place to shelter and shared our first kiss,” he says.

Rhiannon returned to the UK, but they stayed in contact. That Christmas, Dirk invited her to spend the break with his family in a small town near Cologne. “It was so lovely, although my German was pretty bad then,” she laughs.

‘He’s more romantic than me. He always remembers Valentine’s Day’ … Rhiannon and Dirk on their wedding day.

Realising they wanted to spend their lives together, Dirk began looking for a job in the UK, but struggled to find something suitable. “By then, I was working for a property company doing data entry, which could be done remotely,” says Rhiannon. “I grew up in Canada and have lived in lots of different places, including Russia, France and Belarus, so the thought of moving didn’t faze me.”

In April 2012, she relocated to Rödermark and they married in 2014 in his parents’ home town. Since then, they have supported each other through several bereavements and health issues. “We have both lost a parent,” says Rhiannon. “Dirk had a small heart attack and I had breast cancer at the start of the pandemic. He was very supportive of me and stayed with me every day, because I had a really hard time being in hospital after the surgery.”

Rhiannon says her partner is always honest and caring. “He thinks about other people and looks after me. And he’s more romantic than me. He always remembers Valentine’s Day.”

Dirk loves his partner’s spontaneity and British sense of humour. “She makes it so easy to open up. After so many years, I now feel able to talk about losing my first wife and my child. Sometimes I think she might have sent Rhiannon to me. Although I still think of my loss, I feel very lucky and happy to have found love again.”

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