If recent events have taught us anything, it is to remind us of the fragility of life and the importance of love. For a special group of Aveo Lindfield Gardens residents, however, no such prompt was necessary.
For much of his life John Bradwell has woken up to the delightful sight of the same beloved bedfellow.
For 60 years John and the woman he cherishes most, Pam, have shared the joys, blessings and adventure that is married life.
Australian-born John first encountered English rose Pam when the pair met at a function at the Hills District Car Club in the late 1950s.
Pam, who was here on a working holiday, had to go back not long after their meeting. John followed her to the United Kingdom where he asked her father for Pam’s hand in marriage.
Asked why their union has proved so enduring, John says: “I’ve been very, very lucky. I think the secret is tolerance. Pam displays a hell of a lot of tolerance the way she has put up with me all of these years.”
Aged just 26 when they first exchanged rings, the pair never imagined that they would be in their late 80s when they’d take their second trot down the aisle.
The couple were just one of seven reaffirming their love for one another during a mass vow renewal ceremony that took place in the grounds of Aveo Lindfield Gardens recently.
Between them, the seven couples boasted an impressive 391 years of married bliss, with the longest Bill and Brenda Fox boasting 72 years of holy matrimony behind them and the youngest, Barrie and Sharon Jones, having become husband and wife just 39 years beforehand.
The tenure of the remaining couples were none less impressive with Joe and Jeannie Egger (married 62 years), Russel and Rhonda Miller (61 years), John and Helen Herron (58 years) and Ron and Margaret Stephens (52 years).
The vow renewal ceremony, which appropriately took place on Valentine’s Day, was the brainchild of neighbour and community event organiser Helena Heidenriech, who worked on the idea for a full 12 months before bringing it to life.
A firm believer that marriage is not meant to be the final step in a couple’s relationship but just the beginning, Helen – a semi-retired journalist – interviewed each couple to familiarise herself with their stories before weaving each journey into the ceremony.
Swearing each couple to secrecy, Helen took on the role of planner, busying herself by engaging the celebrant, arranging posies for each of the brides, organising cakes, hiring a photographer and sourcing original wedding photos and gowns for display on the big day.
Held just prior to social distancing rules being implemented, around 100 family and friends were there to witness the event with each couple provided with a certificate to commemorate their special achievement.
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