Wartime sweethearts celebrate 72nd anniversary

Jack and Brenda Ashton celebrate their 72nd wedding anniversary at Hollins Bank Care Home
Jack and Brenda Ashton celebrate their 72nd wedding anniversary at Hollins Bank Care Home
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A devoted husband visits his wife every day at her nursing home, more than 70 years after the pair fell in love and married.

Jack and Brenda Ashton are living proof that love really does conquer all, as they celebrate their 72nd wedding anniversary.

The couple met at a bus stop in Tyldesley near Manchester shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War, and married at Saint George’s Church at Mosley Common in 1945.

Now, 72 years later to the day, they are still just as devoted to each other as the day they were wed, as they celebrate their anniversary at Hollins Bank care home on Lytham Road, Blackpool, where Brenda, 93, lives.

Jack, 92, who still lives independently at his South Shore home, said: “Brenda was a lovely girl and always wore very short skirts! She still is lovely.

“Back in those days we didn’t have any televisions and very few people had radio, so on a night we would go on a ‘monkey run’ looking for girls to walk home. It was very common in Manchester. I used to go on the monkey run when I met Brenda.”

Jack’s first date with the 18-year-old beauty, who worked building aircraft parts during the war, came completely by chance after his friend arranged a date with her.

Brenda said: “I had a date with his mate and his mate didn’t turn up, but Jack did.”

Jack added: “He chickened out I think.

“We went for a ride on our bikes and we’ve been together ever since.

“If he had gone instead of me there could have been a different couple here today.”

The pair moved to Edinburgh in the 1950s where Jack, who had worked as a farmer since he was 10-years-old, set up his own lime-spreading business.

They moved to Culcheth in Warrington after eight years in Scotland, and later to Kearsley in Greater Manchester in 1972.

They have two daughters, Sandra, 69, and Sheila, 62, a granddaughter, Yvonne, and a grandson, Jack. They moved to Blackpool five years ago to be near to their younger daughter.

Contemplating shifting cultural norms and the changing attitude towards marriage, Jack said: “Times are different now. People don’t believe in marriage until they’ve lived with someone for 20 years, and then they’re married a year and then they’re divorced. I don’t understand it.

“We have always got on and we’re very happy together.”

He added, with a touch of sadness: “I’m just disappointed she can’t be at home with me.”

Jack worked full-time as Brenda’s carer until January this year, when he finally had to concede that, at 92, he was no longer able to meet his wife’s needs while keeping his own health under wraps.

And while the couple remain as devoted as ever, he had to admit that time has slowly taken its toll.

He said: “I do miss her when I’m at home. I come and spend six hours with her every day, but some days she doesn’t even remember I’ve been.

“She can remember things that happened years ago, but she can’t remember what happened yesterday. It’s one of those things.”

Brenda said: “My memory’s not what it used to be.”

But while Brenda might have swapped short skirts for a floral blouse and cardigan, it’s clear that what staff describe as a ‘wild’ sense of humour is still alive and well in the former curtain shop manager.

Colleen Innes, activities co-ordinator at Hollins Bank, said: “I would describe them as a very devoted couple. When Jack goes home she misses him a great deal.

“Jack is very sociable and friendly. He gets involved in most of our activities and he bakes us scones every night.

“Brenda is very quiet and enjoys listening to music and likes a manicure each week. She’s was the boss and she still is!

“They’re a fabulous couple and it’s a pleasure to have them here.”