1969… the first humans set foot on the moon, the first Concorde test flight is conducted and Woodstock is in full swing.
For some couples it was also the year they embarked on a very special journey of their own – a journey that would last some 50 years – and still continues…
On Sunday June 9 at Ripon Cathedral we celebrate and give thanks to God for those golden years in a unique service for couples that have been married for half a century or more!
Amongst those renewing their vows are Golden Wedding couple Alan and Nicky Waller from Darlington who celebrate 50 years this August. They say the secret of their long marriage is “a bit of give and take!” The couple met at a bowling alley and were married when Nicky was 22 and Alan 23 at St John’s Church, Darlington.
“It was just a lovely day. It had rained early in the morning but then the sun came up and it was glorious. I was more excited than nervous,” said Nicky, “we really enjoyed it.”
After a wedding breakfast at a local hotel the couple got the train to London before flying out to Spain. “All our family and friends came to Darlington Railway Station to wave us off. It was quite ridiculous when you think of it,” laughed Nicky, “my mum gave us a bag of food for the journey – chicken drumsticks – all sorts – I don’t know where she thought we were going!”
Brian and Beryl Holmes will celebrate 54 years of marriage… they got engaged just two days after meeting each other and now have five great grandchildren!
Brian explained: “It was really love at first sight for both of us. I’d gone to Great Yarmouth with three friends and Beryl had gone with her friend and her friend’s parents. When we met, I winked at her and she winked back which surprised me greatly as I expected a toss of the head! We met the next day and spent the holiday in each other’s company. It was a lightning romance. I proposed to her on day two – she said yes and I bought her a ring!”
It was a long distance courtship for the pair with Beryl returning home to Birmingham and only a handful of meetings over the next two years until their marriage in 1964. “I was in an absolute panic on the day,” recalled Beryl, “I remember my knees shaking and then when I got to the church.” Brian added: “I alternated between sheer terror and blind panic! We had no prior rehearsal.”
“As we came out of the church,” said Brian, “I remember thinking all this parting is behind us – now we’ll be together.” “The number of tears shed at New Street Station was colossal,” added Beryl.
And the secret of their happy marriage? Brian, now a vicar, said: “We do not quarrel. When something is said – it cannot be unsaid.”
If you are celebrating 50 years or more do come along to the service at 3.30pm on June 9. The event is free but ticketed; each bride will receive a beautiful corsage and wedding cake will be served after the service.
The Dean of Ripon, the Very Rev John Dobson said: “The Golden Wedding service at Ripon Cathedral is always a great event with a tremendous atmosphere of joy and celebration. It is hugely encouraging to see so many couples gathering with family and friends – filling the nave of the cathedral, showing us how good you can look following 50 yers or more of marriage!
“They remind us of course of the significant truth that marriage is an important building block within society, providing love and security for people at all stages of life.”
Tickets for the service are available from Ripon Cathedral Office on 01765 603462.