In the year Her Majesty celebrates her Diamond Jubilee, scores of couples throughout South Yorkshire have achieved their own landmark anniversary.
They married in the year the young Princess Elizabeth inherited the throne - and have stayed together through six decades.
The Star tracked down eleven diamond wedding anniversary couples and threw them a tea party at the Beauchief, Sheffield’s recently restored, grand Victorian hotel
CANADIAN William Morris, aged 81, came to Sheffield looking for love as a six-year-old orphan.
He and his brother travelled on the SS Athenia, the ship which just 18 months later was to be torpedoed on the first Day of World War II.
Their sad journey was made happier when, after William lost his pocket money, a whip-round on board replenished it and more. Plus when the ship docked in Glasgow, their mother’s parents were there to take them back to Sheffield.
The boys found family love again after the tragic death of their parents. And William was only 15 when he met an even greater love at the Adelphi Cinema in Attercliffe.
Florence, the girl whose hair he used to tug from the row behind, became his bride on September 6, 1952.
He had a bit of work to do before she agreed to go out with him, though: “I didn’t like him. I thought he was a big flirt. He was always with a different girl,” says Florence, 80.
The pair live in Grenoside and have two children and two step-grand-children.
* The Star’s diamond do inadvertently reunited old neighbours after 50-plus years.
George and Barbara Waller sat down to discover they had been seated next to the couple they lived next-door-but-one to when both were in the early years of their married lives - Joan and Les Whitehead.
“I recognised them straight away,” says Barbara, 79. “We lived on Hereford Road near Bramall Lane. Our three kids played with their two. We all had to move when they pulled the houses down in the early ’60s.”
George and Barbara went to Arbourthorne and Les and Joan to Gleadless. “We never saw each other again until now,” says Les, 83, a former sheet metal worker.
He met Joan, now 78, at Smithywood Club. “She went ballroom dancing with her mum. I fancied her from afar, then one night plucked up the courage to chip in for the last waltz with her.”
They wed at St Chad’s on Abbey Lane on a December day. They had their reception at a room above Heeley Green Co-op and Les remembers sprinkling his father-in-law’s ulcer powder on the floor to stop their feet from slipping.
Les’s feet did cause consternation later that night, though. As he was getting into bed with his new bride, he realised his feet were black as coal.
“Because rationing was still on I hadn’t been able to buy any black wedding shoes,” he chuckles. “I’d dyed a pair of brown ones instead - and the dye had soaked through.”
The Wallers had their first date at Sheffield Carbrook Fair when 19-year-old George was home on leave from the Army. He remembers watching her on the dodgems. “I walked her home; it was love straight away,” he says.
After National Service George worked at Graves Park, James Neill Tools and the water board. They celebrated their diamond anniversary on Thursday with friends and family - they have seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
* Love speaks all languages, say Ernest and Elizabeth Shipley.
It’s just as well; when they first met, they could barely speak a word to each other.
Sheffielder Ernest, 82, met Spaniard Elizabeth when he was stationed in Gibraltar with the RAF. He was 21 and she was 22.
“We were able to understand each other and started to learn each other’s language. Though that wasn’t the only difference between us,” he says. “She was a Roman Catholic and I wasn’t.”
Nevertheless, they married in Gibraltar 16 days after the death of George VI, returning to live at his mother’s home on Firth Park’s Bellhouse Road.
Earnest went to work as a bus conductor for Sheffield Bus Corporation and they had four daughters.
Now with 16 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren, they live in Woodseats.
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT:
AS soon as she set her eyes on Jim Matthews, 16-year-old Edith knew she was going to marry him.
Trouble was, the object of her affections walked her friend Brenda home that night from the Cutlers Hall New Year’s Eve dance.
“I was heartbroken,” recalls the 81-year-old Parson Cross dinner-lady and teaching assistant. “He was 18, a nice dresser with a lovely crop of blonde hair.”
But his friends became her friends and when Brenda didn’t turn up one night, Edith nipped in.
Says Jim, 83, a former engineer, who has presented his wife with a diamond pendant: “I decided I liked Edith the best because she used to sing in my ear when we danced.”
They got engaged two years later, then married at St Ann’s Church, Netherthorpe, in July 1952.
Two children and a grand-child later, the Ecclesfield couple happily share the secret of their marital success: “Mutual respect, and telling each other: ‘I love you’ all the time.”
A SWIFT CEREMONY
RHODA and Edwin Newsum remember listening to the radio announcement of King George V1’s death as they prepared for their March wedding.
Their marriage at the old Norfolk Street register office was a rushed affair. “But not because I was pregnant,” laughs Rhoda, 80.
Edwin’s parents had decided to put their Woodseats home up for sale and the young couple, who had met two years before at a dance at Eckington Drill Hall, wanted to buy it. “We had to act fast; I said to Rhoda: do you want to get married and live here?” says Edwin, 84.
Rhoda wore a turquoise suit with wine accessories and Gleesons truck driver Edwin wore his demob suit.
The Waterthorpe couple get plenty of holidays; they have a son who now lives in Denmark and a daughter in Florida.
A successful marriage has to be worked hard for, they say. “In our day you went into it expecting to stay together in good times and bad for the rest of your lives.”