“This Valentines Day, I shall vacuum and dust the living room whilst Judith cleans the Kitchen. That's another way of saying ‘I love you’, said Fred. “Actually, we don’t feel like we should need a special day to say ‘I love you’. Everyday is ‘Valentines day’ for us.”
For Sheffield-based couple Fred and Judith, this will be their 59th year in love since they first met each other when Fred was 17 and Judith was 16.
The memory of their first meeting is still fresh as it was yesterday. In November 1953, Judith went with her father and friends to The Conservative Party's Blue Riband ball at The Newton Hall in the church of St. Johns Chapeltown. Fred only decided to go at the last minute because his mum found she had a spare ticket.
Thanks to that spare ticket, Fred saw Judith on the other side of the hall at their first meeting. He told himself: “She was going to be my girl.”
Fred said with a happy smile: “Judith was a bit naïve and when I suggested after a few dances we needed to get some fresh air, she actually believed me that was what I wanted to go outside for!
"But I don't think she was too disappointed when it turned out to be for a kiss and a cuddle and to make a date for next week.” Judith and Fred started going out together (not relationship in those days).
One and half years after they started going out together, they eloped. In those days they couldn't marry at their age in England without their parents/guardians permission, and this was not about to happen. Since Judith had been without her mother since she was 12 and a half.
In October 1954, Judith’s father died leaving her in the care of an aunt and grandmother. The latter died in January 1955, followed by Fred’s mother the month later. At which time, home life was getting to be a bit fraught for both of them.
“In Scotland however we could get married and so we made our plans, we prayed about it, gave each other a week to consider it and decided, yes we would. It was May 1955.
“I researched Scottish law to be sure of what was needed, we gave in our notices at work, gave excuses at home as to why we would be away the first night and day, and the rest of our life began.” Fred said. A lot more happened in this adventure.
This couple had very little money but there was a rail strike on so whilst the public at large moaned about travel difficulties they blessed it because lorry drivers were encouraged to give lifts.
They took a bus from Sheffield to Doncaster. Then, on the old A1 road, they quickly picked up a lift in a lorry loaded with tinned peas which had come from Sheffield and took them north of the border to Abington.
There it seemed disaster had struck. Judith had left her handbag with all their money in it in a transport café at Carlisle. However, unbelievably when they telephoned the café, the handbag had been handed in! So, they hitch-hiked back to Carlisle and collected the handbag, stayed the night there after buying a wedding ring and started north again next day.
At this point they began to think God had appointed a guardian Angel to watch over them. They travelled as far as The Glasgow suburb of Kirkpatrick and slept the night in the open on the banks of the Clyde, which was extremely cold. This couple were woken in the morning by a tug boat on the Clyde sounding its hooter.
Final leg of the journey was to Arrochar at the head of Loch Long where they found rooms, and Fred found work. They took common law vows and later formalised them in a registry office ceremony at Helensburgh.
Fred and Judith stayed there until Fred was called up for National service in February, 1956. Shortly after this Judith returned home to Grenoside in order to be within travelling distance of where Fred was stationed.
“Our first son Philip was born in July, 1956. We moved into a caravan at my first posting after training, Royal Air Force Coningsby, where our second son Kevin was born in December, 1957.
Six months later I was posted to RAF Khormaksar in Aden (now south Yemen) and we suffered eleven months separation.
“Our main difficulty in our marriage has been the separations endured during life in the forces. You just have to deal with this on a day by day basis. Obviously the major burden was born by Judith caring for the children alone. Judith joined me in May 1959. A happy reunion all round, our first big trial survived.”
They returned to England in July, 1960, bought their first house in Tadley just outside Basingstoke where they lived for 14 and half years leaving the Royal Air Force in 1965. It was from this house that their daughter Victoria was born in 1971. The year of decimalisation! They moved to Redditch in April, 1977 and back to Sheffield in September, 1980.
Now their big family is founded as two of them, three children, eight grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. Wondering is there any secret to stay in love for long time as almost 60 years and beyond, this couple replied, “ You work hard at it.”
“Quarrels and arguments will happen, only boring people never argue! Just don't think an argument is the end, its usually just the opposite. Both of us have made mistakes, because we are humans, but mistakes are not the end either, just another learning experience.”“Love is learning all about each other, what pleases and what displeases and adjusting your own behaviour to suit. Never try to change the other person, change yourself to suit them and trust them to make changes in themselves to suit you. Once you change someone they cease to be the person they were and with whom you fell in love.”