United through thick and thin
DAVID Sutherland fell in love with Kylie Brewitt the first time he set eyes on her 18 years ago in a Sydney nightclub.
The journey from there until last Sunday, when he was one of five graduates who completed a gruelling drug rehabilitation at Bayside Transformations, was filled with the best and worst times of their lives.
They have welcomed three children into the world.
David first proposed 15 years ago but the couple has also weathered the storms of heartbreak, stress and addiction and never made it down the aisle.
"When we were going to get married originally Kylie fell pregnant and we decided to delay,” David said.
"Then throughout the years we had struggles in our relationship and because we were engaged for so long I began to lose respect for what the rings symbolised.”
Unbeknown to Kylie, David had the rings remade to symbolise a new beginning.
Unfortunately David suffered mental health problems as a result of his drug addiction that eventually led him to enter Bayside Transformations following a particularly rough patch in his relationship and life.
"My first week at Transformations I found an unusual piece of coral on the beach and thought it would be an amazing place to keep a ring,” David said.
During a taxing first week at the Hervey Bay rehabilitation centre, Kylie and their three children arrived at the gate.
"She gave me the most incredible, unforgettable hug that said she was proud of me for getting help and I just knew I was doing the right thing by staying in rehab,” Dave said.
"She is so special to me not just because she is the mother of our children but we have stood beside each other in strength and weakness.”
So in a surprising twist of events for Kylie, after David's graduation ceremony, her love of almost two decades proposed in front of other graduates, residents and their families.
She said yes.
"I can't wait to finally be married, this means so much and will make our family stronger,” she said.
The romantic proposal happened during a celebration lunch at the Torquay Terrace campus following an awards ceremony at Bayside Christian Church honouring the five brave graduates.