A Ryhope couple who overcame disapproval, prejudice and doubters to get married have celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary – and their love for each other remains as strong as ever.
Raymond Taylor, 81, met future wife Anne in Kowloon, Hong Kong, when he was serving as a soldier in the 1950s.
Hong Kong native Anne, 82, took some persuading to enter a relationship, according to Raymond, amid much disapproval, but they eventually got together and began a life-long love story.
Mr Taylor said: “It’s one hell of a long time, and I have so many happy memories.
“When we met, she worked in a dairy farm in Kowloon, and it took me a while to persuade her to go out with me, because mixed relationships were frowned upon and her family, particularly her brother, were very against it.
“In those days in China, you really took notice of your parents and siblings, and her brother said ‘You aren’t marrying a British soldier’.
On our wedding day, she climbed out of the bottom window in the house to meet me and get marriedRaymond Taylor
“Some of her friends said the same, and said I would leave her when we got home to England.
“We proved them all wrong, but it was difficult for her. We had problems getting married, and the army wouldn’t release me, but we didn’t listen to the doubters.
“On our wedding day, she climbed out of the bottom window in the house to meet me and get married.
“Even when we eventually came to England, we had some problems with some ignorant people, who couldn’t understand why a Chinese girl was living in Ryhope.”
The pair have one daughter, Christine Bell, and three grandchildren, called Nicholas, Emma and Naomi.
After getting together, the couple lived together in Kowloon for 12 years before moving to England, where Raymond finished his service.
After a year out of the army, he rejoined and went into the RAF regiment parachute squadron, before being demobbed on medical grounds in 1973. They have lived in Ryhope ever since.
Raymond added: “I’d like to go through it all again! We’ve been so happy together, and continue to be.
“It took a while for Anne to settle here when we came over, but we settled down and worked hard. We’re still as happy as anything.”