They go to the gym together, do their shopping, host dinner parties and bicker over cleaning up.

And this intellectually-disabled couple, who fell in love at first sight 12 years ago, want everyone to know just how normal their lives are.

Nellie Pemberton, who has Down Syndrome, feels so strongly about this she is fundraising to go to the L'Arche conference for the intellectually disabled in Ireland in June. L'Arche is a group of 149 worldwide communities where people with and without intellectual disabilities share life together.

Pemberton will be one of only five Kiwis to attend. There she will discuss what it means to live with a disability in 2017 with almost 1000 others.

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Nellie Pemberton and her partner, Richard Swingler. Pemberton has been invited to speak at a conference on disability in Ireland. Photo / Michael Craig
Nellie Pemberton and her partner, Richard Swingler. Pemberton has been invited to speak at a conference on disability in Ireland. Photo / Michael Craig

Pemberton met her fiance Richard Swingler at a house warming party in 2005. She said it was love at first sight. They finish each others' sentences and Swingler has an endearing habit of tapping her on the nose, eliciting a smile every time.

"I fell for his blue eyes," Pemberton explained about their first meeting.

"He's a wonderful man. He supports me every time in sickness and health. I love him to bits. I'm his future wife in 2019. I can't wait to marry him.

"He's the love-light of my life."

Swingler chimed in "every day's a blast".

"Except for the gym," Pemberton retorted.

Swingler has Williams syndrome which is characterised by developmental delays and being highly sociable.

Nellie Pemberton and her partner, Richard Swingler are looking forward to getting married in 2019. Photo / Michael Craig
Nellie Pemberton and her partner, Richard Swingler are looking forward to getting married in 2019. Photo / Michael Craig

The couple, both 35, have lived together for 10 years, and say they have a relationship with all the normal ups and downs.

Pemberton believed her personality was a more defining factor than her Down Syndrome.

"I get boisterous sometimes. I get bossy sometimes. I get pushy."

And her syndrome has not stopped her achieving. She has played the violin for 20 years, also played the guitar, piano and drums, is fluent in sign language, has a certificate in community skills from Unitec and likes hip hop and break dancing. Sometimes the couple go out clubbing to Irish bars. Pemberton currently volunteers at Habitat of Humanity's second-hand shop but dreams of being employed in paid work.

The couple, who live in West Auckland, are no strangers to discrimination, and say they have been bullied. But that will not stop them from living life to the full.

Pemberton and Swingler are members of Mt Tabor, a not-for-profit organisation that assists people with intellectual disabilities to live alongside those without disabilities.

Mt Tabor is trying to fundraise $5000 to go towards Pemberton's flights and accommodation while abroad. It does not have enough spare money in its budget to afford the trip.

Community leader Janine Felton will accompany Pemberton to Ireland but pay her own travel costs.

"[People with intellectual disabilities] offer a whole different way of looking at life.

"They taught me about the simplicity of life and being incredibly forgiving. If you listen carefully you learn a lot about life."

Author Jo Carson-Barr is donating half of the proceeds from her book Waata the Weta: can he find the perfect home? towards the trip. Her son illustrated the book while he worked at Mt Tabor.

• Visit Nellie's Givealittle page to donate or to buy the book.