Matthew and Alison Hurst met while studying at Dorset Institute of Higher Education in the early 80s. The couple have been married for more than 30 years and run a business together.

A photo of Matthew, Alison and son Jono alongside a Q&A about the family business with Matthew Matthew, Alison and son Jono alongside a Q&A with Matthew about the family business

Matthew says: “We met the day before university started, as we were both assigned the same student lodgings on Kniverton Road. We discovered we were doing the same course and – both being from rural areas – that we had similar backgrounds and interests. While Bournemouth might have seemed quiet to city dwellers, to us it felt like a hive of activity.

“We hit it off immediately and, while other students were going out clubbing, we enjoyed exploring the local area by walking and cycling. The long walk from Poole to Hengistbury Head became a regular Saturday activity. We would also sit in the shelters along the seafront – often with a four-pack of lager! Alison dropped out of the course after the first year, but we stayed friends and I realised that I really missed her. I eventually proposed on Boscombe Pier and was delighted when she said yes.”

Having completed the course, Matthew returned to his home in Cornwall and found work as a furniture salesperson. After being made redundant, he and Alison set up their own furniture business which they now run together with their son.