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EXCLUSIVE: Neighbours' Melissa Bell reveals how she found love as a widow

When her husband and soulmate Gary died three years
ago, the actress wondered if she’d ever move on.

By Phillip Koch
It took former Neighbours star Melissa Bell two years to even consider romance after the shock loss of the man she'd decided to grow old and grey with.
Gary Dickinson swept Melissa off her feet 20 years ago and saved her from her first failed marriage. But in November 2015, Gary, then 57, suffered a heart attack, which left him in a coma. He died three months later.
"I took a lot of time out after losing Gary," Melissa, 46, reveals.
"Losing the love of my life and the father of my children... it took that time to work out who I was as a person, and what I wanted out of life. And throughout it all I kept hearing Gary say, 'There's never a right time, just do it!' which was his philosophy of life."

A growing friendship

Enter charming Gold Coast financial strategist and father-of-two Grant Thompson, who Melissa met at a friend's barbecue about 18 months ago.
"It started out as a friendship and built over time," smiles Melissa, who has just moved in with Grant.
"Life moves on and I still want to commit to someone out there, even though I know it's a different connection. We clicked pretty much straight away because we realised we had a lot in common when we started talking."
Melissa has three children with Gary – Jonathan, 19, Isabella, 15, and William, 11 – and eldest son Dylan, 22, from a previous relationship, while Grant, who is divorced, has two daughters, Paris, 18, and Zara, 16.
Melissa and Grant can't wait to start their new life together. (Image: Supplied)

Old spark returns

"We're a bit like the Brady Bunch," giggles Melissa, who has her old spark back after the heartbreak of recent years, and says she never even considered going on dating sites when she felt ready to take that "next step".
"I wasn't looking or thinking I wanted to find someone. Gary was genuine, honest, generous, caring and would give the time of day to anyone – and not everyone has those qualities. But I think if Gary had met Grant, they both would have got along."
WATCH: Top tips for dating later in life. Post continues after video...
Grant, who had never seen Melissa in her role of Lucy Robinson on Neighbours, or when she starred on E Street, says he was instantly attracted to her "amazing smile, warmth and openness", and can't wait to start their new life together.
Melissa says losing Gary took her on a journey of self-discovery.
"Love means very different things," she says. "I look at life differently now. I think it's about connecting with people on different levels. I'm a different person now. I've grown spiritually. I needed to take time out to come to terms with what life had dealt me. I think it was a really healthy thing to do."
The couple share the same tattoo! (Image: Supplied)

Forever in her heart

Melissa says it was Gary who showed her what real love felt like after they met and fell in love in 1999, before marrying the following year.
"Gary will always be with me because he lives on in our children. I'm sure he's looking down on us now," she says.
The star lost her husband in February 2016. (Image: Getty Images)

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