HE never says it with flowers and giving chocolates just wouldn’t enter his head, but after supporting her through cancer Jan Rowley insists her husband is Morpeth’s Most Romantic Man.
And to prove it, Tony Rowley has just taken the title in a Rutherford’s of Morpeth competition, winning £250 to spend in the store’s Brook Taverner menswear department.
Mrs Rowley, 49, nominated her husband for his unflinching support in her two-year battle with breast cancer.
It was in November 2010 when the family’s ordeal began.
“Tony was there for me from the start,” said Mrs Rowley.
“He was absolutely devastated when I got the diagnosis. It was me who was trying to comfort him at first because, in my mind, I knew already. He kept on saying it would be all right, but going for the results, I was prepared for the worst.
“After that, he was there for me all the time – at every chemotherapy or radiotherapy appointment he was with me, and at every consultation he was there.
“The support I had from him was amazing. I didn’t need to ask for anything, he would just do things.”
Mrs Rowley also found support from her children Megan, Lauren and Adam, but it was her husband who helped the whole family through and the 53-year-old was always ready with a compliment for his wife.
“When I lost my hair and my eyelashes and eyebrows, Tony kept telling me that I still looked lovely.
“He would keep up my morale and looked after me, taking over the role of looking after the children as well. It was a challenge for him because he doesn’t cook or anything so he had to learn all those skills, but he never complained.”
Seeing her husband win a Valentine’s Day competition was particularly emotional for Mrs Rowley as it was on February 14 two years ago that her hair first started falling out from chemotherapy.
“This is like closing a chapter because Valentine’s Day for me for the past two years has meant remembering when I was sitting talking to Tony and I ran my hand through my hair and the first clump came out,” she said.
“There are only two times when I have cried through this and I cried that day. No woman wants to lose her hair and that’s what Valentine’s Day meant.
“This is a lovely thing now. It has come full circle.
“When I got the phone call to say he had won the competition I just started crying. For me, it is the recognition Tony deserves.”
She added: “Tony is not a hearts and flowers romantic, but what is being romantic?
“The competition asked does he buy you flowers? Does he bring you breakfast in bed? Does he buy chocolates? Tony doesn’t do those things, but he was amazing when I was ill.
“I would rather have somebody who stands up to the plate when you need them and that is what Tony did.
“He came through, pulled us together and it has made us even stronger as a family unit.”
Mr Rowley knew nothing about his nomination for the competition and when he found his wife in tears on the telephone he feared the worst.
“The first thing I knew about it was when the phone went and Jan picked it up and burst into tears,” he said.
“She had a mammogram about two weeks ago and we hadn’t got the results back so when she started crying I thought it was something terrible.
“Then I heard her say ‘that’s lovely’ so I was really confused.
“When she came off the phone, she told me what she had done and showed me the nomination letter she had written.
“I started crying then, then she started crying again, we were a right pair of numpties.
“It is lovely that something good has come out of something terrible, although Jan deserves a prize more than me for what she has been through.
“Any half-decent husband would have done the same as I did. You just have to go into overdrive and assist where you can.
“When I said she looked beautiful it was because she did. That was just normal to me, I wasn’t just saying it. Other than that, I just tried to keep Jan’s spirits up.
“It’s really nice that she appreciates what I did, but it was nothing.”
Mrs Rowley has now finished her intensive treatment and the couple are carrying on with their normal life at their home in Widdrington Station.