Traveller Joan Furey on her Big Fat Gypsy Divorce

by Lynn Connolly

Among the traveller community, divorce is a four-letter word, but today, for the first time, Joan Furey, a bride who featured in hit Channel 4 show, My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, has revealed why she divorced husband, Patrick Ward.

As fans of the show may recall, Joan and Patrick married in a lavish fairytale ceremony – rumoured to have cost around £150,000 – but there was to be no happy ending, and Joan has told the Daily Mail, “The wedding should never have gone ahead.”

Joan, who has a son by Patrick, explained, “The wedding should not have gone ahead. I didn’t love Patrick.

“I had my doubts during the whole six months of our engagement, and that was evident on the show.

“I thought I loved him, but looking back I just convinced myself because he loved me so obsessively and had pursued me so persistently…

“I thought anyone who loves you that much has to be worth a chance, but he was not the nice boy I thought he was.

“He turned into something else, something nasty, jealous and controlling.’

When Joan and Patrick’s wedding went ahead in October 2009, and aired on C4 in February 2010, it was not mentioned that just five weeks before, Joan had called the wedding off.

She said, “I’d told my parents and they were very supportive, saying it was my life and my decision.

“I also told the programme producer. She knew what was going on, and didn’t try to persuade me one way or the other, but I felt under enormous pressure.

“If I’d broken off the engagement at that point, it would have been a huge scandal. No gypsy woman ever does that.

“Also the whole build-up to the wedding had been filmed and was due to be broadcast.

“Not only would I be humiliated within my community, but also on national television.

“I’d signed a contract, and although I could ask to be cut out of the show as a favour, the TV company were within their rights to do what they wanted.

“In the end I just didn’t have the guts to call it off. It was easier to go ahead with it and hope for the best.

“I woke the next morning, had my hair and make-up done, pushed all my fears to the back of my mind, and just let it happen.”

However, Joan reckons the filming of MBFGW was not the reason she went ahead with the wedding.

She said, “If anything, it gives me something to look back on, I can see how unhappy I was, and how wrong it was.

“Yes, it provided an extra pressure, but it would have gone wrong whether they were there or not.”

Joan, who’s trying to find out if she can get her marriage to Patrick annulled by the Catholic Church, concluded that she hasn’t ruled out getting married again.

She said, “In fact I’m going to go even bigger next time.”

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.