A community Facebook group might seem like an unlikely place for a love story, but for elderly couple Jerald Montillier and Valerie Mortram that's exactly where theirs began.

It was early December 2018 when 75-year-old Montillier bought a computer, taught himself how to use it, and posted a message to the Waiuku Grapevine.

"Any lady, I have a spare room. I am 75, just share expenses, live alone - my wife passed away two years ago. Just someone to talk to. It gets so lonely by myself. Not a very good cook. So maybe it might suit you. Live in the Waiuku centre of town, close to shops," he wrote.

It was Montillier's desperate plea to end his loneliness.

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"I was married for about 55 years when my wife passed away, and a month later I had a stroke.

"I got over that and a couple of months later I had a massive breakdown. It was quite horrendous but I got through, and then I met Valerie and my whole life changed for the better," he said.

Valerie Mortram was sitting at her home in Dargaville when she decided to reply to Montillier's message.

"I had already put an ad on the Grapevine up here that I was selling my house and looking for somewhere to rent with a little dog, and I wanted to share a house," she said.

"I thought 'what have I got to lose'. It was a bit of a shock, but I had been on my own for six years and it was lonely."

Jerald Montillier's original post to the Waiuku Grapevine seeking someone to live with. Photo / Facebook
Jerald Montillier's original post to the Waiuku Grapevine seeking someone to live with. Photo / Facebook

A couple of weeks later they would meet for the first time and fall in love.

"I didn't know if Valerie was genuine or not, and she lived in Dargaville, so I jumped in the car and drove up," Montillier said.

"It was such a long way, so when I got to the bottom of the Brynderwyn Hills I thought, 'what the hell am I doing'.

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"But I thought, 'well I have come this far so I may as well see what is happening and whether it was genuine or not'. It turns out that it was and we just hit it off and that was it.

"I couldn't believe my luck. I just looked into her eyes and thought this is it."

Mortram, originally from Waiuku, said the couple "just seemed to click" and had similar interests.

"I thought 'wow, what a lucky lady I am to meet such a gentleman'.

"He was there a couple of nights and then he brought me down to Waiuku. I liked what I saw so we started to make plans from there."

The couple have continued to post updates on the community Facebook page about their love story. Photo / Facebook
The couple have continued to post updates on the community Facebook page about their love story. Photo / Facebook

It wasn't long before Montillier proposed to Mortram online, and the couple announced their engagement in a post on the Grapevine - with dozens of community members congratulating them on the news.

A few weeks later Mortram moved to Waiuku and settled into life with Montillier and her dog Panda.

The couple have continued to post updates to the Waiuku Grapevine, however, said they initially faced strong criticism from family and some community members.

"They all thought I was going nuts and Valerie was just after my money, but I knew better. We had a bit of a falling out, but they will come around in time," Montillier said.

Valerie Mortram moved from Dargaville to live with Jerald Montillier in January. Photo / Facebook
Valerie Mortram moved from Dargaville to live with Jerald Montillier in January. Photo / Facebook

"They can't believe that it has happened, but I say that you should never give up. We fell in love and that is it. You can't control it, it just happened.

"We are good for each other and we don't have that loneliness now."

Mortram said while some people's reactions have been good, and some nasty – their story is one of true love.

"It is genuine. A lot of people on the Grapevine think we are having them on, but we are not. We keep giving them updates to let them know we are still here and are okay.

"Jerald is one in a million and spoils me rotten. I love him to bits and I know he loves me. I couldn't be happier."

While they had not set a date for the wedding, the couple said they were aiming towards the end of June or July.

"We are going to have it down by the duck pond. That is where Jerald put his wife's ashes and we would like to do it there so she knows we are okay – and I love the duck pond," Mortram said.

Montillier said he hoped other people could learn from their love story. "There is hope no matter what age you are - it can happen," he said.

"All I can say to other people who are lonely is not to give up."