As gran Sandra Newton sat drinking with her partner Pete, her heart skipped a beat in a way she had never expected – when another woman walked into the bar.

Feeling like she was in a modern fairy­tale, the mum-of-two fell instantly in love.

Sandra, 55 – who had an eight-year marriage behind her and had been with Pete for 18 years – said: “I’d never looked at a woman before in my life.

“But there was an intrigue about her. She completely lit up the room, that’s the only way I can describe it.”

The lady who caught Sandra’s eye was Sharon Hughes – who, ever since watching Cinderella as a young girl, had been aching to be somebody’s Prince Charming.

And when she met Sandra, she knew she had found her princess.

The pair were both on holiday in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, and within days their bond had become unbreakable.

Retired Sandra said: “Little things happened which made me realise I felt something more.

“I was lying around the pool and Sharon was stood talking to our friends – I didn’t want to get up to swim because I didn’t want her to look at me in my bikini.

“I thought, I like this woman, I want to know her more.

“She’s a massive charmer. We’d go to the beach and she’d carry my bags… she was a real gentleman.”

The couple married in a fairytale-themed wedding last month, with Sandra dressed as Cinderella – and Sharon her Prince Charming.

Sandra said: “My perfect man turned out to be a woman.”

Ironically, Pete had met Sharon, 50, on a previous trip to the same resort – and told her how much she would like his partner.

Sharon said of meeting Sandra: “I felt something, a force.

“Sandra was staying on a floor one flight up and every morning I’d be in the pool waiting for her to come down.

“One evening, everyone in the group wanted KFC so me and Sandra agreed to go in a taxi to get it. I felt a slight ulterior motive in volunteering to do that.

“In the back of the car, Sandra couldn’t even look at me.

“I knew something was going on there – every time I offered her a drink on holiday she went red.”

Things moved on a step towards the end of the trip, when the rest of their group went off to bed – and Sharon and Sandra stayed up playing pool and having a few drinks.

Sharon walked Sandra back to her room and, in a moment of passion, the gran-of-four grabbed her and asked her to kiss her.

Sharon recalled: “She said she wanted more from me – but I pushed her back into the room where Pete was sleeping and told her it couldn’t get out of hand.”

When the trip came to an end, Sandra flew back to her home in Ipswich, Suffolk, with Pete while Sharon headed home to Weston-super-Mare in North Somerset.

But they kept in constant touch, texting each other 10 times a day and sending Elvis songs to seal their burning love.

And when Sandra needed minor surgery just weeks after returning to the UK, she jokingly suggested Sharon come and look after her. Sandra said: “I found myself really falling for her.

“I was so confused, I’d never looked at a woman before in my life. I wanted her to care for me and stay with me.”

Sharon, who works in marketing, was quick to agree. As they reunited, she decided she needed to speak to Pete and be completely honest.

She said: “I texted Pete and said we need to talk. I tried to tell him about us and he laughed. “I said to him, ‘Pete, me and Sandra aren’t just having coffee…’ But he didn’t want to know.

“When I went to stay, Sandra went up for a bath and I tried to talk to him. He stopped in his and Sandra’s room that night, and me and her in the guest bedroom.

“Then he went off to stay with a friend for the week I was there.

“We slept in the same bed but nothing intimate happened – I wore my shorts and T-shirt as a kind of armour to stop that.

“But when I finally kissed her, I melted.” Just two months later, Sandra left her family home and Sharon upped sticks from the South West to move to Ipswich to be with her love.

Sandra reveals with sadness that her grown-up children have not accepted Sharon into their lives.

She said: “When I told them about us, I said I was moving out, that I was in love with Sharon. Neither of them took to the situation, really.

“It’s sad but you sort of think, they’re adults, getting on with their own lives.”

But she added that in the three years since taking that first step, she has kept in contact with her grandchildren – her son’s four youngsters, all under six. And despite the difficulties, the couple have stuck it out and built a life together – first in Ipswich, then in France and now in Alicante, Spain.

But Sharon admits she was nervous their relationship might have been “just a phase” for Sandra. And her fears were only laid to rest when she proposed last spring – and Sandra readily accepted.

Bringing to life her dream of being Prince Charming, she arranged a Cinderella-themed proposal in the Maldives.

Sharon said: “I dropped hints and mapped out some clues about what I was planning. We went to Blackpool for a rags-to-riches theme, and had cakes with little Cinderella stickers on.

“I bought a Cinderella carriage for the ring. And I had this wonderful speech prepared – but I just broke down and said, ‘Please don’t say no’.

“Sandra had said she’d never marry again after her first marriage broke down. She’d been with Pete 18 years and never married him.

“I even wrote to her mum to ask permission, and her mum replied, ‘She’s besotted with you’. I felt so sick and nervous but she said yes – everyone on the beach clapped. It was beautiful.” The couple’s wedding was also Cinderella-themed, with all the guests dressed as Disney characters.

They say they are not just a couple, but also best friends – and want to just keep on living their lives and having a laugh.

And one day, they say they will make a special pilgrimage back to Sharm el-Sheikh – to where the fairytale began.

Sandra said: “Sharon’s one of the most romantic people I know. Sometimes I think, ‘She’s a woman… how did that happen?’ But it does happen. I think we’re just meant for each other.”

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