It’s a romance that began with a shy lunch invitation between co-workers – and seven decades on it’s still going strong.
Sheffield couple Len and Lily Hawcroft married 70 years ago on New Year’s Day, 1944, aged just 21 and 24.
They will celebrate their platinum wedding anniversary today surrounded by their ever-growing family, which includes their three children – David, Peter and Coral – seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
“The secret to our marriage has always been give and take,” said Len, 94, who lives with wife Lily, 91, in Fulwood.
“We’ve had our ups and our downs, like every couple, but Lily’s been the best mate anyone could ever ask for. She’s an incredible mother and grandmother and is thoroughly reliable and delightful, I’d be completely lost without her.”
Lily was a teenage clerical officer when she was posted to an army pay office in Leicester in 1942.
Len said: “I had been posted to the same department during the war and was head of Lily’s section.
“She’d bring me my messages and we’d chat. One day I took a chance and invited her to lunch and was thrilled when she said yes.”
The couple married a little over a year later and, after the war, moved to Lincoln where Len worked in a flour mill while Lily looked after their three young children.
He said: “Times were certainly tough, we had hardly any money, but getting through things like that together, it bonds you.
“We’ve had a cross word every now and then but never anything serious. We’ve seen each other through all the good times and the bad.
“We were never ones for going out drinking and clubbing, or even making lots of friends. The truth is that socialising with people was expensive and we couldn’t afford that, with the kids to feed and clothe and school unforms and trips to pay for.
“We became each other’s social circle, us and the children.”
Len added: “We have a lovely family, we’re very proud of them all.
“They’re all fantastic people and it’s wonderful to see the brilliant, impressive people our grandchildren have grown into.”
They moved to Rotherham in the 60s, when Len took over as assistant commercial manager at a flour mill. After he retired, in 1988, they settled in Sheffield, to be close to daughter Coral.
Lily said: “We’re nice and comfy here, we love Sheffield. The people are so friendly, the kindest we’ve ever known, and we’re very much at home now.”
The couple, who were both keen swimmers in their younger days, enjoy doing crosswords together or watching musicals.
They are planning to celebrate their anniversary with their large family in the summer.