MARRIAGE-mad Pat Higgins has vowed to make her next wedding – set to be her ninth – her last.
Pat, 56, plans to wed her toyboy lover Mark Sanderson, 24, next year.
Her track record of eight failed marriages, the longest of which lasted just five years, and the 32-year age gap between the pair might not bode well for their forthcoming union, but Pat says she is determined to defy any doubters this time round.
The grandmother, of Longbenton, has come in for criticism over her many marriages, all to men younger than her, ended in divorce, but Pat insists she hasn’t done anything wrong.
She said: “People call me a maneater and a black widow, which is silly.
“I’m not a predator. I just like to be happy in life. What’s wrong with that?
“I want to be with someone who treats me like I should be treated.
“Most of my family are very supportive of me, although Mark’s family are not happy.”
Ever the optimist, Pat, a mother of five, is convinced her next marriage will be the one that sticks to the until-death-do-us-part stipulation contained in most marital vows.
“I’m an eternal optimist and have thought every marriage was going to work, but this time I know it’s going to last,” she said.
“People might say he is too young, but age has got nothing to do with love.”
Of Pat’s eight marriages, the longest lasted five years, and the shortest, marriage No 2, was all over after just five days.
Her first was in 1974 to Michael Kelly, but it lasted just three years.
Since then, she has seen marriage after marriage has fallen apart, sometimes over accusations of infidelity and in other cases because she and her husbands just drifted apart.
All of Pat’s bridegrooms have been younger than her, the oldest being odd-job man Barry McDermott, 40, her husband for just two months in 2007.
Even though her future husband No 9’s family aren’t happy about their engagement, Pat is hoping she’ll be lucky in love this time and eventually win over his mum Jennifer, seven years her junior, and stepdad Stephen.
“Younger men are more fun than men my age, which suits me because I want to enjoy myself until I draw my last breath,” she said.
“I’m young at heart, so young men suit me better.
“I haven’t done anything wrong. I haven’t killed anyone or done anything illegal.
“People get divorced all the time, so I don’t know how people can judge me.
“I have been divorced eight times, but it hasn’t always been my choice.
“I’ve tried to make every marriage work, and this time will be no different.
“Once trust and communication go from a relationship, it is difficult to carry on in an environment like that.
“The truth is that I have been unlucky in love.”
Pat, an Open University student, met her latest partner, a shop worker from Cramlington, during a night out in Newcastle, and ten months later he popped the question after going down on one knee.
Pat’s late parents were married for 48 years, and she says she wishes she could be more like them.
She said: “When I walk down the aisle with my ninth husband, I’ll make a secret vow to myself, as well as to him – no more weddings. This time it has to last for ever.”