A husband and wife who met as teens have become one of Britain’s longest married couples after celebrating their 80th wedding anniversary.
Ron Golightly met his beloved Beryl aged only 16 when one of his pals wolf-whistled at his future wife’s friend group as they walked past in the street.
A 14-year-old Beryl turned round to see what was going on and instantly fell in love with Ron’s curly hair and cheeky smile and the pair have been inseparable ever since.
Beryl, now 98, said of Ron, now 100: “I just knew as soon as I saw him I was going to marry him. I was 14 and Ron was 16, it was very much love at first sight. A couple of days later we spoke again and went for a walk, we were more or less a couple straight away.
“I thought he had whistled at me and I just fell in love with his cheeky grin straight away.”
The couple tied the knot in their hometown of Harrogate, North Yorkshire, in 1941 while Ron, who served in the Brigadier Guards, was on leave from the Army during World War II. His leave was cancelled twice so he had to apply for a special marriage licence.
The wedding was so last minute they had no photographer to capture the big day and had to grab a passer-by from the street to step in to be Ron’s best man.
Beryl added: “We got married when I was 18 in 1941. I don’t know if he even proposed, we just spoke about the time in the future when we were married.
“There was no great romantic proposal, he definitely wasn’t down on one knee. We just started planning a wedding.”
Beryl, a former shop assistant, and Ron, a former HGV driver, have two daughters, Margaret, and Sue, six grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and a great-great-grandson. The couple celebrated their 80th anniversary on January 8 with an Oak Wedding Anniversary card from the Queen.
The card is the fourth they have received from the Royal household after being sent cards for their 70th and 75th anniversaries and Ron’s 100th birthday. They hold extra special meaning for Ron who once stood on sentry duty outside Buckingham Palace.
Beryl said the secret to a happy marriage is communication as the couple never let argument linger.
She added: “Tell me a couple who haven’t had rows, but we always resolved the arguments. We would talk the problems out, I think that is the key. You need to communicate and talk to each other. I don’t think enough people talk to each other these days.
“We fell in love very young and we are still in love now.”
And she puts the secret to their long life to living a healthy lifestyle and plenty of exercise. She added: “We had plenty of exercise when we were younger. We had an alsation and we used to walk her everywhere. We’ve always eaten quite healthy too.”
Their daughter Sue Johnson, 75, the family is very close and it was sad they could not celebrate the couple’s anniversary together. “We’d always done a lot of visiting, they would always visit us and we would visit them,” she said.
“When I was younger with a family, I didn’t have a car or any transport, so my mum would always help me out. We’ve always been close, to us it’s just normal, but other people do think it’s special how long they have been together and married for. They were in love then and they’re still in love now, it never changed and that’s why they’re still going strong.”
The 80th year of marriage is traditionally marked by oak gifts. In addition to the card from the Queen, the couple received an oak heart crafted by one of their sons-in-law and a wooden bowl with a ha’penny bit dating from 1941.