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Simon and Edna Martin are all too aware people disapprove of their relationship.

There was the time a lady curled her lip as she passed them walking hand in hand along the seafront. And when Simon’s mother saw them enjoying “a wrap-around kiss” on the street, they say she swore.

The couple’s 40-year age gap stirs strong reactions. At 87, great-grandmother Edna is one year older than Simon’s mum. And at 47, Simon is 17 years younger than Edna’s daughter.

They have no time for anyone who is critical of their union – when it comes to the grimacing woman on the seafront, Simon assumes she was jealous. “She must’ve been upset because she wasn’t getting enough action in the bedroom.”

The pair met in 2007 at a concert of cinema organ music in Edna’s hometown of Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, and it was love at first sight.

“The moment I saw Simon, I hugged him and neither of us wanted to let go,” says Edna. “We met at a few concerts after that and I gave subtle hints I wanted to be more than friends. Our first kiss, a few weeks later, was lovely and long.

“We grew close really quickly and we were always upset when Simon had to go back home to the Midlands, sometimes to the point of tears. We had five-hour phone chats while separated and Simon used to play Goodnight, Sweetheart on the electric organ for me every night. We were miserable without each other. We needed to be together. I still feel like that.”

In the early days some acquaintances said their relationships was “weird”. They say Simon’s parents said the coupling wasn’t their cup of tea to say the least. But if anyone felt they wouldn’t last, they were wrong. Last month they celebrated their 17th wedding anniversary.

“I proposed on the morning of Valentine’s Day 2005 when we were in bed,” says Simon. “I was in the nuddy when I knelt on the floor to ask if she’d please do me the honour of marrying me.

“I bought Edna’s sapphire engagement ring later that day and while it was being resized, we went for a cuddle under the pier. When we married five months later, Edna’s son gave her away and her daughter made our wedding cake.”

Edna and Simon giggle as they say their love life is as active as it was when they first got together. The pair are constantly tactile and playful, pinching each other’s bums, kissing their necks and laughing as Simon twangs the back of Edna’s bra.

Edna divorced her children’s father, after a 37-year marriage, in the 1990s. But for Simon, finding love was a new experience. “I was definitely a virgin when I met Edna – she took my cherry,” he says.

“When you love each other, you express your love in whatever way comes to mind. So we’re not slowing down – that side of things is as active as they always were and we’re having fun.”

Then there’s the even more sensitive subject of Simon outliving Edna. “We talked about that way back in the beginning because we needed to consider practical concerns,” says Simon. “We decided we wanted be together no matter what time we had left, even if it was just a year.

“Throughout our time together, my health has been worse than Edna’s. A few years ago I suffered total kidney failure and was dying before I had a transplant. No one knows how much time they have. So we’re just living in the moment and have trusted it to fate.”

The couple believe anyone who can’t see beyond their age difference is “concerned only with chronology, not chemistry”.

The physical attraction is mutual. “I love looking at him,” says Edna. “He’s so pretty with beautiful curly hair and a big smile. And he’s so naughty. People are always fluttering their eyelashes at him. I’m very lucky.”

Simon insists he’s the lucky one. “Edna’s a very attractive woman. I love her hair, her wit, kindness and intelligence.

“If I leave her alone for five minutes I come back to find someone trying to chat her up.”

Edna reassures Simon she wouldn’t fall for any chat up lines from “boring old farts” her own age.

She has always torn up society’s rule book. When she first trained to work as an engineer in the 1950s, later working on trains and even Concorde, she was enraged that bosses were shocked to see she was female.

Edna believes sexism lies behind people’s disapproval of her marriage. “If a man has a much younger wife, people would slap his back and say, ‘Woah, look at him – he must be a right goer’. But because I’m a girl and older, it’s considered extraordinary.

“I don’t think as most people my generation did and still do. I don’t believe anything should be classified by sex or age. Our marriage is no one else’s business.”

Turning convention on its head throws up some interesting family dynamics. Simon says: “My stepson is 62 and stands over 6ft tall to my 5ft 3in, and he calls me dad.”

When it comes to hobbies, interests and fashion, there is no generation gap between Edna and Simon.

Both dislike social media but love the same films. “Simon loves old movies from the 1930s and 40s, which I grew up watching,” says Edna. “And we both adore cinema organ and orchestral music.”

Simon says Edna is his fashion inspiration. “Edna is always smart and has taught me dress sharply.”

Friends have told Edna and Simon they have inspired them to find love. And they encourage anyone, of any age, to never stop looking for a special person to share life with.

Edna says: “People can find love, they can be happy and care for each other at any stage in their life. If you love each other and aren’t hurting anyone else, even if it means getting through some difficult times, the sun can shine on you again.

“That’s why me and Simon are enjoying each other and don’t care what anyone else thinks of us.”