Berwick woman says "I'm best friends with my ex and his new partner - we raise our kids together"

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A woman is best friends with her ex-husband and his new partner - and they're all raising their children together.

Rachel Young, 36, and Gillian Knox, 40, first met 16 years ago through Alan Malone, 39 - Rachel's ex.

But the friends fell out when Gillian and Alan, who run a catering business together, fell in love and started dating.

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They would only communicate through Alan to sort out the childcare for Rachel's daughter, Alexa, 14.

Stephen, Rachel, Alexa, Alan and Gillian. Picture: Gillian Knox© SWNSStephen, Rachel, Alexa, Alan and Gillian. Picture: Gillian Knox© SWNS
Stephen, Rachel, Alexa, Alan and Gillian. Picture: Gillian Knox© SWNS

But the pair both realised it was "silly" and started going to Alexa's parent evenings and school events together.

Gradually they rebuilt their relationships and now hang out with their children - Zach, four, Rory, two, and Hallie, two, and partners - Alan and Stephen, 41.

Rachel, a pub owner, from Berwick, said: "We're best friends. It's almost sisterly or cousinly.

"It just a really nice relationship. It makes life easier.

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Gillian, Alexa and Rachel. Picture: Gillian Knox© SWNSGillian, Alexa and Rachel. Picture: Gillian Knox© SWNS
Gillian, Alexa and Rachel. Picture: Gillian Knox© SWNS

"I don't feel there is anything I can't talk about with Gillian. It's a hands off the table kind of thing."

Gillian said: "There is no awkwardness.

"It's more like she is a relative.

"As a co-parent life is just so easy - it's lovely.

Rachel (left) and Gillian (right). Picture: Gillian Knox© SWNSRachel (left) and Gillian (right). Picture: Gillian Knox© SWNS
Rachel (left) and Gillian (right). Picture: Gillian Knox© SWNS

"We're all friends. We're completely immersed into each others' lives."

Gillian was friends with Alan through her ex-husband and said the friends used to hang out all the time with their partners.

Gillian said: "I used to look after Alexa quite a lot.

"Alan and Rachel came to my wedding."

Gillian split from her ex-husband in 2014 after 13 years together and Alan and Rachel, who were together for six, separated in the same year.

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Gillian did a few shifts for Alan's catering business and the pair grew closer and started dating later that year.

She said: "We spent a lot of time together. We ended up as a couple.

"Rachel and I naturally drifted.

"We couldn't communicate.

"We had to go through Alan.

"We avoided each other."

Rachel met Stephen, who own the pub together, in July 2014 but despite finding a new partner she struggled to communicate with Gillian and would only text Alan to arrange childcare.

She said: "I didn't have any issue with anyone.

"When that relationship ended [with Alan] I made a whole point that that life was over.

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"It was just a bit petty. It was a bit awkward at the beginning when it was all fraught."

But in 2017 Rachel and Gillian finally started to talk again.

Gillian said: "We have got to make sure Alexa is number one - and we realised she wasn't.

"Rachel phoned to say she needed the Rainbows uniform.

"She was going to drop it off with Alan at some point.

"I saw her walking down the street with it.

"I thought 'this is stupid, I can't just walk by you'.

"I asked 'do you want me to take the uniform?' It broke the ice."

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Gillian decided to ask Rachel out for coffee and they talked out their issues and put them to bed.

They started going to parents evenings, school concerts and dentists appointments together for Alexa.

Rachel said: "I think things just naturally changed. It's all to benefit Alexa - she is the most important one."

They gradually started hanging out as a four again and going to restaurants and pubs together.

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Gillian did find it hard when Rachel fell pregnant with Zach, four, as she had been trying for a baby of her own.

But shortly after Rachel had Rory, two, Gillian found out she was pregnant with Hallie, now two.

She said: "It was lovely spending time with Rory as a newborn while pregnant.

"Now we're always babysitting for each other."

Rachel said: "When she became pregnant the relationship stepped up a gear again.

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"We started catching up more often and being more socially together."

Gillian said the children are raised like cousins and they all live just a few minutes drive from each other.

Rachel and Gillian text every day and when they are not on play dates with the kids they go for afternoon dates and for drinks together.

Gillian said: "On Mother's Day this year we went to a posh place for afternoon tea to treat ourselves.

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"This year we spent New Year's together too for the first time."

Rachel said: "I'm grateful for Gillian for stepping and taking on my daughter.

"Alexa is the person she is because of both of us.

"It's getting to the point where she is not wanting to talk to me about things.

"But I know she'll go to Gillian."

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