‘We honoured our vows’

When Thomas Needle started talking to his sister’s friend Mary at Worksop’s Palais dance hall, he knew had to save the last dance for her.

Love soon blossomed for the teenage couple who got engaged in 1949 - marrying in Shireoaks three years later on 22nd March 1952.

This week Thomas and Mary, both 80, celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary with a special open-house party at their High Hoe Road home.

Mary said they were looking forward to celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary - 10 years after they renewed their vows at Shireoaks Church on their golden wedding anniversary.

“I used to think Thomas was a bit stand-offish when I first met him, but I eventually found out he was just a very shy person,” she said. “We both really loved dancing and it just went from there. It feels very special to be celebrating our diamond anniversary after all these years.”

Mary said they hope the weather this week is an improvement on the blustery conditions they had to endure on their wedding day. “It was a cold and so windy that I had to put little stones in my veil just to keep it down,” she said.

Added Thomas: “It also snowed heavily on the way back from our honeymoon in Torquay, which we didn’t expect at all.”

The couple had daughter Elaine in 1953, followed by son John in 1956, and have enjoyed many family holidays over the years - from staying at Butlins to caravanning in Devon and Cornwall.

Thomas worked as head of manufacture at Carlton Cycles for 30 years before retiring, while Mary worked at Batchelors Foods before moving to work as a care assistant at The Old Vicarage care home in Worksop.

But they still found time to pursue their love of dancing over the years - enjoying regular dances and meeting old friends at Manton and Creswell and Bawtry.

And although two of their four grandchildren live in New Zealand and Australia, they still keep in touch with their family, including their three great grandchildren.

The couple have had to give up dancing in recent months after Thomas became ill, but said they still manage to get out and about - at home and abroad.

Said Thomas: “The doctor recommended a cruise for my health, so we’re going on a trip to the Fjords later this spring, as part of our diamond wedding anniversary.”

Added Mary: “We’ll still be looking for new things to enjoy together. My children gave me the Darling Buds of May 20th anniversay boxset for Mother’s Day, so I am sure that will keep us entertained.”

When asked what the secret to a long, happy and successful marriage is, Thomas said it was about honouring the vows they made on their wedding day.

“Marriage is a partnership and decisions should be made together. If you really believe the marriage vows - for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health - then you have got a strong marriage,” he said.

Added Mary: “I remember my dad saying after Thomas had asked for my hand in marriage ‘He’s a grand lad, but you make your own bed and lie in it.’ Marriage really is a commitment and we have been very lucky to have had a wonderful 60 years together.”