She had spent the past week in tears after husband Tony had left her for another woman.
They had been together for 33 years – she even had a tattoo of him etched on her arm to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary.
Now she was talking to Alan Goodwin, the heartbroken husband of Tony’s new love.
Incredibly, he had phoned minutes after Deborah told on Facebook how devastated she was by the split.
Her message was seen in a one-in-a-million chance by Alan’s daughter-in-law, who put them in touch.
And as Deborah and Alan poured their hearts out, sharing details of the hurt only they could know, an unlikely bond formed between them.
That bond turned to love and now, 18 months later, Deborah, who cares for dementia patients, and Alan, a delivery driver, are planning a future together and are even THANKFUL for their ex partners’ betrayal.
“When Tony told me he didn’t love me any more, it felt as though the ground was crumbling beneath me,” says Deborah, 53.
“I was absolutely devastated, I loved him so much and felt like my life was over. I’d spent more than half my life with him.
“Alan and I only got together to support each other, and we couldn’t believe what was happening when it turned into more.
“Now, I’m glad about what happened. I used to say to him, ‘Isn’t it bizarre your wife ran off with my husband, and now we’ve ended up together?’”
Childhood sweethearts, Deborah had known Tony since she was 11 after she moved to his street in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs, where she still lives.
Tony, now 55, was 14 then and they used to play kiss chase. As teenagers, they shared taxis home after dancing at the local disco.
“We’d sit at the end of the road and wait for the lights to go out in Tony’s house when his parents went to bed, then sneak in together,” recalls Deborah.
“He was a fun guy and I was madly in love with him.”
The couple dated for four years before marrying in November 1983 and had four children in almost as many years: David, 28, Mark, 27, Katy, 25 and Jack, 23. It seemed to be a strong partnership.
Deborah says: “We had a really good marriage, or so I thought. We’re both quite bubbly and liked having our friends and family around. We worked hard to have good holidays. I loved him to bits.”
But their relationship began to unravel on a holiday to Mallorca in September 2012 – their first time there without friends and family. Deborah couldn’t wait to spend time alone with her husband. But Tony had other things on his mind.
Deborah explains: “I was so excited. I thought we’d be able to do what we wanted when we wanted, and it would be just the two of us. But it didn’t work out like that.”
Deborah says Tony was withdrawn and spent much of the time on his mobile phone.
“He slept with it under his pillow and when he went for a shower, the handset went with him. That all adds up now.
“We’d go for a walk in the day and then Tony would settle down for an hour’s nap in bed.
“I’d go and lie next to him which, in the past, would start things off between us but now he’d jump straight up and go for a shower.”
Tony batted off Deborah’s questions about why he was behaving so strangely. She put it down to the long hours he was putting in as a carer.
But his odd behaviour continued when they got back to Britain and three weeks later, he told her he was leaving.
She says: “He just said, ‘I don’t love you any more and I haven’t for a long time’.
“At first I was shocked, and then my heart broke. He was my best friend, my husband and the father of my children.
How could he just walk out like that?” Deborah begged Tony to change his mind, but he would not listen.
He offered to move out, but Deborah knew she couldn’t afford the rent on their semi alone, and offered to go instead.
In October she went to stay with their daughter Katy.
Although Tony denied he was seeing anyone else, Deborah learned from a mutual friend a month later he had moved 42-year-old Dawn into the house. Both were carers working in the community and had got together through their jobs.
“I knew of her, as Tony worked with her and would sometimes drop her name into conversation. But Tony wouldn’t tell me anything about her,” says Deborah.
“I didn’t take it well at all. I started drinking heavily, and taking painkillers. I still worked, but I felt I didn’t have anything left to live for.
“I was 51 and thought, ‘This is it, I’m going to be alone for the rest of my life’.
“People would tell me I’d get through it but I just couldn’t imagine a future for me without Tony in it.”
Soon afterwards, Deborah logged on to Facebook and wrote: “I am devastated.”
And almost immediately, a woman she did not know replied, saying, ‘My father-in-law Alan is devastated too.’
Deborah continues: “I had no idea who she or Alan were, but she went on to tell me Alan was Dawn’s husband. She’d left him to be with Tony after 24 years together.”
Deborah asked if she’d pass her number on to Alan for her, and within minutes he was ringing her phone.
“It seemed odd, I know, because I didn’t know him. But we were in the same boat, and he knew how I felt. We met up and both of us were in tears, unable to comprehend what was on earth was going on,” she says.
The pair texted often, checking on how the other was feeling. Later on, they went for dinner together.
“We didn’t eat a thing though,” says Deborah. “He was devastated and spent the night crying. I ended up reassuring him, telling him he’d meet someone else.
“I don’t think I believed it as I certainly didn’t believe it for myself, but I wanted to make him feel better.
“We became friends very quickly. We were the only people who understood what the other was going through.
“We’d send texts asking after each other and helped each other through.”
A week later, 46-year-old Alan, called with a proposition. He couldn’t afford to pay the mortgage on his house, and wanted to know if Deborah would into a bungalow he had found to lighten their financial burden. She agreed.
“We had few options. No one else we knew was looking for a housemate, and I couldn’t stay with Katy forever.”
They got on well sharing. Deborah would cook for Alan when she wasn’t working, and he’d treat her to dinner out.
And once their misery started to lift, Deborah saw a different side to Alan.
“I didn’t fancy him at all at first – I felt sorry for him. But once I got to see the real him, he’s funny and charming.
“Then one night around Christmas we were sitting watching television, and he just turned around and kissed me.
“I was shocked, I felt like a teenager again, butterflies in my stomach. I went to go to bed, and he got up too and asked if I wanted to sleep in his bed, so I did.
“That’s when it started. People might say I just jumped into bed with him, but it wasn’t like that at all.”
The pair are happily planning for their joint future, going on trips abroad as well saving so that Deborah can pay for treatment to hide the tattoo of Tony that was inked on to her arm as a surprise 25th anniversary present.
Most of all, though, she appreciates laughing again because there was a time she thought she never would again.
“Alan’s a hardworking, lovable guy who really makes me laugh. He does silly things like pull faces and it cracks me up.
“He’s romantic too. We don’t have lots of money, but even yesterday he bought flowers. He makes me feel special.”
Alan says: “I was devastated when Dawn left me. I thought I’d never love again, but Deborah is the best thing that ever happened to me.”
Meanwhile, Tony and Dawn are still together. Tony says: “I am happier than I ever was before.”
Dawn adds: “I’m happier with Tony than I ever was with Alan. Deborah and Alan were pushed together because she had nowhere to go.”
But 18 months down the line, Deborah shrugs off any comments about why she fell for Alan, and says she feels like a different person.
“I always thought I was happy before, but now everyone always comments on how happy I seem and I’m so in love with him.
“I feel like I’ve had a new lease of life.
“Would I ever take Tony back? No. It’s too far down the line now, and I’m happier than I ever thought I would be.
“Alan is an incredible man, and I can now look forward to a future again.”