JUBILEE celebrations are officially under way - after The Star threw a party for a dozen happy couples all celebrating their diamond anniversaries this year.
It’s something to celebrate, is 60 years.
And it’s not only the Queen we’re raising a glass to...
Sheffield has its very own jubilee stars, diamond couples who married in the year the young Princess Elizabeth inherited the throne and have stayed by each other’s side through six decades.
The Star tracked down eleven 60th wedding anniversary couples, readers who were born in an era when people married young and stuck together through thick and thin to fulfil their marriage vows.
And to our mind, that’s an achievement which deserved a bit of a party, so The Star stepped in to host afternoon tea after Sheffield Council admitted it is not staging any civic celebrations to mark the Queen’s 60 years.
Scones, cream, strawberry jam - and glorious sunshine - all came out to ensure our diamond do at The Beauchief Hotel had a very special sparkle.
All the invited couples, now in their 70s and 80s, were young post-war lovebirds when they tied the knot in 1952, the same year Princess Elizabeth ascended to the throne.
“When we heard about The Star readers celebrating their diamond wedding anniversaries in the jubilee year we wanted to help make it a special milestone,” said Charlie Curran, head chef at the hotel and restaurant, which reopened in April.
“The Beauchief is an iconic building in Sheffield and the perfect setting for afternoon tea, so we decked out the garden with bunting and put on a traditional spread of sandwiches and cakes for everyone.”
It wasn’t only the tea that flowed freely, though; men and women born and wed a few years apart, who raised their children around the same time as the Queen raised hers, had many a memory to share.
The also had their own, very personal and heart-warming stories of love, loyalty and devotion to tell.
Meet some of our jubilee diamonds in the first of this two-part special...
* * * * *
Young couples who can’t get onto the housing ladder? It’s an age-old story.
After Doreen and Lol Duke got married at Heeley Parish Church on September 6, 1952, they had to live with Doreen’s mum and dad in Upper Heeley for four years.
“It gave us chance to save up for a house – houses were very awkward to come by in those days,” says Lol, 80, who was a plater before becoming managing director at RF Luke Ltd in Clowne.
One day I heard that a man on Alexander Road was emigrating to Canada, so I went and knocked on his door to ask if it was true and how much he wanted for the house. He said £890, so I said, ‘I’ll have it’. That was the first time we had a home of our own together.”
The couple met while cycling and have happy memories of their honeymoon – a coach trip to Blackpool. He and Doreen, 80, now of Norton Lees, have three children, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Lol says: “You have to have some give and take to make a marriage last 60 years – and lots of laughter and fun too.”
* * * * *
Walter Farr knew his new girlfriend was a sweetie on their first date.
“Olive won me over with her home-made toffee,” grins the 82-year-old. “It was 1949 and we were at the Hippodrome Picture Palace on Cambridge Street. You couldn’t readily get sweets, so Olive had made some toffee for the pictures.
I thought, ‘If she can make toffee like that I bet she can cook a Yorkshire pudding’.”
Both worked at The Star and Telegraph – Walter made the metal plates and Olive, now 81, was in the printing department – and married at St Swithun’s Church on the Manor.
It wasn’t really the wedding we would have wanted – I was in the Army and home on leave and I had to be back in Edinburgh for the following Wednesday. But we made the best of it,” says Walter.
“We didn’t have our honeymoon until 1954, when we went away to Torquay.”
The couple, of Bradway, who celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary on September 20, have two daughters and five grandchildren, and are members of the Senior Blades Sheffield United fan club.
They say their long marriage is built on trust: “You have to be truthful with one another. If you start having secrets, that’s when things start to go wrong.”
* * * * *
Blushing bride Christine Duckenfield had just 16 days with her husband Stanley before they were parted for two years.
“We got married on August 23 during Stan’s embarkation leave from the Army on National Service,” remembers the retired school secretary, now 79. “We went on honeymoon to Scarborough on the train, came home and on September 8, Stan was sent off to Korea. I didn’t see him again until January 1954.”
The couple had met at a Saturday night dance in the Cutlers’ Hall when she was 17 and Stan 19. Dancing was how we did all our courting – everyone did in those days,” Christine reflects. “In the interval the lads would go out to the pubs for a pint. The girls stayed behind and had orange juice.”
She and Stan, who became a tailor and is now 81, live on Shirecliffe Road. They have two sons and two granddaughters.
She says: “Our 60 years together have been a journey. There’s no secret to it. You have to get on, and you have to give and take. We are blessed we have still got one another.”
* * * * *
Love blossomed for Audrey and Stan Bottrill on a youth club coach trip.
They sat together on the coach all the way to Holland.
That £19 holiday was money well-spent; by the time the pair came back, they knew they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together.
Audrey was 19 and Stan 21, but they had to wait for four years before they could wed – on the orders of his bosses at the bank.
“The bank said employees couldn’t marry until they were 25. They thought you couldn’t afford it,” explains Audrey, now 82.
“We got married the very first Saturday after Stan’s 25th birthday!”
Money was tight, so it was a home-spun affair: “Our reception was in a room over the Co-op – we catered for it ourselves with the help of the neighbours. My dad was a keen gardener and he grew all the flowers for the tables.”
The Halfway couple, who celebrate their anniversary next week, have three children and one grandchild.
“It’s lovely having our anniversary the same year as the Queen’s jubilee. It gives it that bit extra. I doubt our celebrations will be as big as hers – we’re having a new kitchen instead of a party – but they will be just as special,” says Stan, 84.
Adds Audrey: “I wouldn’t swap Stan for the world. Our son Neil is getting married next year and our advice to him would be never to go to bed on an argument.”
* * * * *
Norman Caukwell reckons he knows what his long and happy marriage to Brenda, 80, is down to.
“It’s all about working together, looking after the children, then the grandchildren, and now the great-grandchildren. It’s the way it should be,” reckons Norman, 79, a former welder who runs the Sheffield 13 Brass Ensemble.
His other secret for marital success? “Keeping Brenda on her toes. I’ve always told her when she got to 80 I’d be trading her in for four 20-year-olds,” he quips.
They met at a dance at Brinsworth Village Hall. “It was proper dancing then, ballroom dancing, not flailing your arms about like they do now,” says Norman, 79 to Brenda’s 80.
“We had the wedding on May 31, 1952 at Brinsworth Church, and then the reception at Catcliffe Church. We had no money for a honeymoon.”
The Woodhouse pair say they have always looked after one another – and were always too busy raising their family “for any messing about.”