A couple who have travelled the world hand in hand for 60 years are celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary today - but despite their romantic story, they very nearly did not get married on Valentines’ Day.
John and Gwen O’Halloran tied the knot on February 14, 1959 - and three children and six grandchildren later, the couple are celebrating their special anniversary today with a family meal.
The pair, who live in Orton Brimbles, Peterborough, first met at a dance, and were married a short time later - but they very nearly had a different wedding day.
Gwen said she had first been attracted to John because he was a good dancer. She said: “We wanted to get married in March, because at that time you got a tax rebate, so we wanted to get married before the end of the financial year.
“We are both Roman Catholic, and when we went to see the priest he said we couldn’t get married then because it was Lent. He said the best time would be the Saturday before Ash Wednesday - which was February 14.”
The couple - who are both aged 80 - got married at St Patrick’s church in Stafford in front of their large families.
John was in the RAF at the time, and his job took the couple across the world, before they settled in Peterborough.
While John and Gwen have always remained happy together, there have been sad times in their six decades together - none more so than when daughter Allison died at Thorpe Hall Hospice six years ago. John is also fighting leukaemia at the moment, and was full of praise for staff at Peterborough City Hospital.
But Gwen, who worked as a teacher before retiring, said: “I think the secret of a happy marriage is that variety is the spice of life.
“We have lived in 23 different homes over the years, and travelled across the world with John’s work.
“We have lived in the tropics, and spent a few years in Europe and Germany.
“Along with Allison we have two children - Jonathan and Elaine - and six grandchildren.
“We used to ski a lot and we have lived an active life.”
However, John’s advice for a long marriage was slightly different - he said: “I was talking to the Bishop of Peterborough, and he asked me what the secret is - and I said it is selective deafness.
“Really it is about a bit of give and take and communication.
“Talk to each other. Everyone has iPads and mobile phones nowawadays, but there is no substitute for talking to each other.
“We don’t pressure each other, and we are kind to each other.
“We have been able to try and experience so many things.
“She said she couldn’t have done it without me, and it’s the same for me.”