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Alcester couple who first met at Stratford-upon-Avon’s Dirty Duck celebrate 60 years of marriage

AN Alcester couple who first met at Stratford’s Dirty Duck returned to the pub last week to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary.

John and Eli Evans, who were married on 22nd July, celebrated with lunch at the pub but also have planned a river cruise in Portugal and a party for family and friends.

John and Eli Evans met at the Dirty Duck in Stratford 62 years ago. Photo: Mark Williamson
John and Eli Evans met at the Dirty Duck in Stratford 62 years ago. Photo: Mark Williamson

John, from Wootton Wawen, was introduced to Eli, who is Norwegian, by a friend in 1961.

He told the Herald: “She was on a date with a friend of mine who introduced me to her saying, ‘this is Eli, she is Norwegian and here in Stratford as an au-pair to improve her English.’ Rather attractive I thought.”

John happened to be out with a Danish friend, and both shared a great a love of music. John added: “I had taught him some English songs and he taught me the popular Swedish song Flickorna i Smaland (The Girls in Smaland). Having been introduced to this beautiful Norwegian by a typical Englishman, accompanied by a musically inclined Dane, I decided to give my new song its first audition… on the terrace of the Dirty Duck, I got down on one knee and sang it to Eli.

“This rather unusual attempt to further Anglo-Scandinavian relations made such an impression on her that not only did I have to explain that I was not actually Swedish, but the impression I made was the start of a relationship which has lasted over 60 years.”

Eli added: “Not long after he tracked me down to Henley Street as I was leaving English lessons and asked me out. I ended up ditching my original date and started seeing John instead as he sounded much more interesting.”

John followed Eli back to Bergen when she finished as an au-pair, living and working in the city. Eli said: “In autumn 1962 I went to a school near Paris to study French for three months. John came to visit me there after a spell in Copenhagen and presented me with a ticket to fly to Birmingham for Christmas. I have stayed ever since.”

The couple got engaged and married at St Peter’s Church, Wootton Wawen. They settled in Alcester and had two children, Paul and Lise.

John has had a long career in financial services, working first for Legal and General before running his own business in Alcester. Eli worked in various administrative roles for electrical contractor EIC until she retired in 2003.

The couple are both former members of Alcester Round Table and Ladies Circle, 41 Club and Tangent. Music has continued to be central to John’s life and his main hobbies are composing and playing the piano, painting and tending his allotment whilst Eli enjoys tennis, golf and reading.

They have both sung with Midlands Voices and have travelled extensively with frequent trips to Norway to visit friends and family.

The couple have four grandchildren, Maya, Ava, Bruno and Verity.

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