Sun, 07 Jan 2018
IT started with a gift of a heart-shaped pebble on a beach in Dorset more than 50 years ago – and now this Newbury couple have celebrated their golden wedding anniversary.
Graham and Liz O’Riordan met through mutual friends while on a bank holiday day out from Newbury to Burton Bradstock in the early 1960s.
And last month the couple were joined by friends and family from across the globe to mark their half century of marriage on Saturday, December 16.
The jet-setting couple, who now live in New Zealand, returned to their home town of Newbury to mark the special occasion with a visit to St Nicolas Church – where they tied the knot in 1967 – before a reception at the Donnington Grove Hotel.
Recounting their meeting, Mrs O’Riordan said: “We were walking along the beach and he just bent down to pick up this pebble and gave it to me – it was in the shape of a heart.”
Mr O’Riordan, who would later become a captain in the Royal Navy, went away to sea soon after and the couple did not speak again until 15 months later.
“I was 17 and he was 20 – I don’t think he expected me to keep the pebble back then, but I’ve still got it now,” explained Mrs O’Riordan.
Since their wedding, the two former Newbury grammar school pupils have lived all over the world, including Zambia in Africa and New Zealand, where they now call home.
And despite living abroad for more than 40 years, the couple still feel like locals when they return.
“It’s lovely coming back,” said Mrs O’Riordan, who trained and worked as a nurse in her youth.
“It was strange going back to the church – we were quite heavily involved with it when we both lived in Newbury.
“The town has changed a lot, but we still have many friends here.”
She added: “If we are here, we do think of ourselves as Newburians.”
The globe-trotting pair were joined at the anniversary by their two sons, Patrick and Tim, and their five grandchildren, along with many old friends.
Looking back over their 50 years in marriage, Mrs O’Riordan reflected: “I think tolerance has kept us together.
“We are both quite similar too; very adventurous, we both like trout fishing, and we both like trains, but we do have our own interests.”
However, she said the secret to a lasting marriage was far simpler.
“We just love each other,” she said.