When Jim Richardson met Irene Calvert at a village dance it was the start of lifetime of love - so much so that this month the couple have retraced their walk down the aisle 75 years after they first married.
The couple, aged 95 and 94, marked their special anniversary with a blessing in the Lancashire village church where they wed on April 12, 1944 - St Michael’s CE in St Michael’s on Wyre.
It was a bumper celebration of a remarkable record which must make their’s possibly the longest-lasting marriage in Lancashire.
Family and friends gathered once again to celebrate the couple’s marriage, only this time there were proud children, grandchildren and great grandchildren in the congregation.
The retired farming couple, were, as our photographs show, delighted to share their gratitude and happiness at so many years together with both a service of blessing and a reception at the venue where they had their wedding reception in 1944, village pub The Grapes.
They met aged as teenagers at a dance in 1942, but had seen each other before when Jim was visiting his cousin in St Michael’s where Irene lived, and were smitten.
Jim proposed as they cycled together one afternoon, stopping by a local wood to get out a ring and summon up his courage to ask if Irene would be his wife. The couple were aged 20 and 19 when they married.
Grandaughter Sandra Taylor helped plan the 75th celebration and said of the extraordinary anniversary celebration: “It went amazingly. We got photographs of them leaving the front door. They were very excited about it. The blessing was just lovely.”
She revealed her grandfather had had a particular wish, being regretful that he had never thanked his then late mother during his original groom’s speech.
Sandra said: “I asked to put in the prayers to thank his mum for everything she did for him while she was alive.”
He had another request too.
Irene chose the popular hymn, All Thing Bright and Beautiful, to be sung at the blessing service and Jim wanted to walk out to the wedding march.
On the wedding day in 1944, Irene and Jim had to be driven to a photographers in Preston for their wedding photographs before returning for a roast dinner and later an evening reception with tea and cakes.
This time there was no delay and the party could head straight for The Grapes, followed by champagne at the couple’s home.
Times were hard in the war years and they were fortunate the food for their wedding feast was supplied locally from a family farm and a relative brought a salmon fished from the river Lune.
The couple had made their married home at Plane Tree Farm at Sowerby from 1947 to 1963 and then Cross Hill Farm at Treales before retiring from farming in 1970 and before beginning work as a mini-bus driver at Top Rank Services at Forton and later for Lancashire County Council, where his role including working as a snow plough driver.
At one time Irene had worked at Wild Boar Cottage at a very unusual cafe, as Sandra explained: “Blackpool had a big wheel just outside the Winter Gardens and when it was dismantled one of the carriages was taken to St Michael’s and attached to the side of a house, where it still is today and it was turned into a cafe.
Grandma worked there when she was younger and also worked at the Rivermead hotel in st. Michael’s.”
After retiring from farming he couple moved to a bungalow in St Michael’s, where they still live.
Their first years of marriage were spent at family farms Cross Hill Farm at Treales and Lower Wild Boar Farm at St Michael’s.
Asked what is the secret of their happy marriage Sandra has no doubts: “Compromise. They love each other very much and they do talk about things. I think it’s routine - they know what they are going to be doing. Certainly that’s to do with their longevity.”
She added: “Grandad still drives. I take him to the supermarket for shopping once a week. That’s all we are allowed to do. They are very independent.”
She noted the couple still tend their half acre garden and that Irene was a very talented flower arranger and cake decorator as well as working on the farm with Jim.
A delighted Jim said he felt: “six feet tall” after the blessing, adding of their long marriage: “I would do it all again. I’m proud of every member of my family.”
An equally happy Irene said: “You can always go to one another with your troubles. It has been a lovely life.”
The couple have four children, Rosemary, James, Jennifer and Peter, eight grandchildren, nine great grandchildren and one great great grandchild.
Now they have another special photo date to look forward to, this week five generations of one branch of the family will line up together - with Sandra’s uncle, cousin and descendants including the family’s newest addition, Jim and Irene’s first great-great grandchild Cole Richardson who was born in October.
Asked if they have any secrets for success in marriage Sandra said: “They said that there is no secret to a happy, long marriage, just take each day as it comes.”