A NEWBURY couple celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary say the secret to a long marriage is “love and affection and not being frightened to say ‘I love you’”.
David Smallridge, 83, met his wife Shirley, 84, in 1956 at a friend’s 21st birthday party after he had seen a picture of her in the Newbury Weekly News when she came second in the Miss Greenham beauty contest.
Mr Smallridge, who was born and bred in Newbury, said: “I thought when I saw her, ‘she’s a good looking woman’. And she still is.
“A year later, when out for a meal, I asked “how about it?”. That was romantic for me.”
Sixty years later they are still together and have two children, six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
When asked what the secret to such a long marriage was, Mr Smallridge said: “Love and affection and not being frightened to say ‘I love you’. I tell her all the time.”
Mrs Smallridge added: “We get on well and always have. He didn’t go out to work as we had the garden centre [Smallridge Garden Centre], so he was always around.”
To celebrate, Mr and Mrs Smallridge’s daughter Karen Fenwick, a practice nurse in Kintbury, arranged a surprise party for all their friends and family at St Mary’s Church in Shaw.
Mr Smallridge said: “She said to me ‘we’re going out, put your best suit on’, so I did. When I saw what she had done, I cried.
“She spent a lot of time and a lot of money to organise the surprise party for us. I am so proud of her.
“It was a lovely party. It’s never going to be riotous with people our age, but there were good friends, a good natter and a laugh.”
The Queen also sent a congratulatory card to the couple, which now has pride of place in their lounge.