Tue, 27 Mar 2018
TWO sets of neighbours in Speen – who tied the knot within an hour of each other back in 1968 – have celebrated a combined 100 years of marriage.
John Cook, 71, and his wife Linda, 70, jetted off to the Caribbean for a cruise earlier this month with Roy and Carol Hutchins, as both couples celebrated their golden weddings.
The couples first met 43 years ago, when they moved into the newly-built Sutton Road estate in Speen.
But it wasn’t until 25 years later – when the couples were both celebrating their silverwedding anniversary – that they discovered they had coincidentally said their vows on the same day and, remarkably, nearly the same time.
Mr and Mrs Cook (nee Bevan) met at a house party as 17-year-olds in Ealing in peculiar circumstances.
“My first introduction to him was watching his suit catch fire,” said Mrs Cook, who recalled how her future husband’s suit caught alight as he lent against an oven full of burning sausage rolls.
“Needless to say, I’d had a few drinks,” said Mr Cook.
The pair met up at the same house at another party six months later before they started going out together.
They married on March 9, 1968, at St Barnabas Church, Ealing, before relocating to Tilehurst.
They came to Speen shortly after, where they first crossed paths with their would-be golden wedding neighbours.
Mr and Mrs Hutchins (née Selwood) first met at a dance on a Sunday night in Wootton Bassett, where Mr Hutchins used to be part of a group that played there.
The pair married at St Bartholomew’s Church, Wootton Bassett, at 2pm – an hour before Mr and Mrs Cook – who they joke are the ‘newlyweds’ among them.
Mr and Mrs Hutchins moved into Sutton Road and lived a few doors down from the Cooks.
As young parents away from their families, the couples naturally crossed paths through babysitting groups and community gatherings, such as street bonfires.
They soon became close friends, but only discovered years later they shared the same anniversary.
Mrs Hutchins said: “We had separate parties on the same day and one of our friends was invited to both of them and only then did we realise – 25 years later – that we married on the same day.
“We’d just never bothered to ask each other.”
When asked the secret to a long and happy marriage, both pairs agree that a life together isn’t a straight, upwards curve.
“You need tolerance and a bit of give-and-take,” said Mrs Cook.
“We haven’t had any real arguments. We bicker – but not real fallouts.”
Mrs Hutchins added: “Some young people might think it’s boring to be married for 50 years, but through that 50 years, you have highs and lows.
“Your kids grow up and become teenagers, family members pass away – you have to adjust to all of that.
“It isn’t all one gradient.
“Weddings are all different now to 50 years ago,” added Mr Hutchins, whose youngest son was married during his lunch hour in America.