A couple said ‘I still do’ as they renewed their wedding vows to mark their diamond anniversary.
Edith and Ray Price married 60 years ago today at St Hild and St Helen’s Church in Dawdon following a three-year courtship which began when they met at a dance at Dawdon Workingmen’s Club.
They exchanged letters while Ray travelled with the Merchant Navy, with the notes also used to make arrangements to call her at the telephone box in Wynyard Street, just a short distance away from Edith’s home in Illchester Street.
Now the couple whose ‘honeymoon’ was to move into their first home in Hawthorn, have gathered with their friends and family to mark their 60 years together.
They renewed their vows in the same building, now run as a Christian fellowship, with the congregation once again singing Love Divine before Edith, 83, and Ray, 82, then said ‘I will’ and exchanged rings.
The pair, who now live in Easington Colliery, left the building to the processional song All the Nice Girls Love a Sailor.
I said if we were still here on our 60th anniversary, we would renew our vows.Ray Price
The party of 90 people then headed to the Glebe Centre in Murton to celebrate, with a VW Camper van acting as the couple’s wedding car and a “smoochie” number lined up for their first dance of the afternoon.
The second ceremony was the idea of Ray, who spent six years with the Merchant Navy before going on to work at Vane Tempest Colliery in Seaham.
He said: “I said if we were still here on our 60th anniversary, we would renew our vows.
“We’ve had a wonderful time, it’s been very nostalgic.
“We’ve had all our friends and relations here, our neighbours, all hands to the pump.
“I remember on our first wedding day, it was snowing like mad.”
Edith, who worked at Dewhirst in Peterlee as a passer on its shirt production line, added: “It’s been a lovely day.
“We’ve always stuck together, it’s been so long, and we just love each other.”
Ray said: “They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but I was away all that time with the Merchant Navy, and I don’t think that’s the case.
“I vowed after that, I would never leave her again.”
The ceremony was led by Pastor David Taylor and community manager Barbara Taylor.
Barbara told the congregation: “What do you say to a couple who have been together for 60 years?
“They’ve obviously stood by each other through thick and thin.
“They are an example of long-lasting love and an example to all younger couples who are thinking about getting married as they reach their diamond wedding anniversary.
“They are both still fit and healthy and still handsome and beautiful.”
The couple, who also lived in Murton before moving to Rutherford House in Easington Colliery, are parents to Stuart, 59, and Beverly, 55, grandparents of four and great-grandparents of one.
Granddaughter Amy Speckman, 23, spent 18 months helping to organise the anniversary party.
She said: “We’re just all pleased to be part of their big day, it’s been excellent.”