There are some days you remember your whole life and for lifelong Stratford resident Jane Ireland one of those was 23rd January 1969, the day she met her husband of 50 years and passed her driving test.
Jane, 71, and husband Paddy, 72, celebrated their golden wedding anniversary on 30th March, ordering a special three-course meal at home, after lockdown measures put a planned family afternoon tea at the Arden Hotel on hold until later in the year.
The pair are well known around Stratford, with Paddy having served as a postman for 45 years until his retirement in 2017 and Jane having worked for the NFU and with a number of Stratford retailers.
Jane said: “I’d just passed my driving test on the day I met Paddy, a friend of mine persuaded me that we should go out to celebrate to we went to a dance at the Village Hall in Lower Quinton. The soldiers based at Long Marston used to come along and I met Paddy, who was serving there at the time. I suppose we did click, we had a few things in common.
“We arranged to meet up after that outside Woolworths on Bridge Street, I didn’t think he would turn up, I’d not had much luck with boys up to then, but he did and we went to the cinema on Greenhill Street.”
The couple got married at St Gregory’s Church on 30th March 1970, having a reception at the Arden Hotel before venturing up to Blackpool for their honeymoon.
They set up home together on Rowan Close in 1971, following a brief time living in Dorset where Paddy had been posted, and have lived at the same address ever since.
Paddy and Jane went on to have six children Colin, Elaine, Steven, Peter, Richard and Danny, though sadly Steven died as an infant.
Jane said: “One of the things that we both have in common is we love dogs, we’ve always had dogs. Of course we sometimes have arguments like all couples, but Paddy once said to me we’ll never really fall out because we both love our dog so much.
“If I had a tip for a long happy marriage it would be just to be honest with each other, don’t keep secrets, don’t bottle things up.”
Although Jane and Paddy can’t go through with their plans to celebrate with family at the Arden Hotel until social distancing measures are lifted, they did decorate their home with streamers to mark the occasion and neighbours also brought round an orchid and a bottle of champagne as a gift.
Thanks to local company Shakespeare Kitchen Catering and Events, the pair also had a special hree-course meal delivered to their doorstep.