Couple’s day of surprises to mark their diamond anniversary

Lillian and Ronald Ramsey
Lillian and Ronald Ramsey
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When Lily and Ron Ramsey looked out of their window and saw a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce waiting to whisk them away they were amazed.

But that was only the first surprise for the anniversary couple in a day full of special moments.

Lily and Ron’s six children had organised the luxury transport to celebrate their diamond wedding.

The car carried mum and dad along Portsmouth seafront and was due to deliver them to a restaurant for a meal.

But the couple, in their 80s, were then greeted with surprise number two. ‘We thought there was going to be a few people at this restaurant in Denmead,’ says Lily. ‘But in Cosham the car started branching off and I thought maybe he knows a short cut. But we came to this big crowd of people and realised we knew every face.’

About 60 well-wishers made it to the Portsmouth couple’s surprise party at Highbury Community Centre in Cosham.

One of the highlights was when four of their grandchildren – Brooke and Taylor Somerset and Megan and Maddison Ramsey – performed a tap dance to Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York.

The number finished with everyone in the hall dancing and letting off party poppers.

Ron, a big Sinatra fan, says: ‘I don’t very often cry but the tears were welling up in my eyes. They do now, even when I think about it.’

Ron and Lily met at a dance at South Parade Pier. ‘He was very thin with all this hair. I thought he looked a bit like Frank Sinatra,’ she laughs.

They arranged to go to the cinema and although Lily didn’t take him seriously, she decided to see the film with her sister anyway.

‘Well he was there waiting for me. I didn’t expect him to be there and felt a bit sorry for him,’ she remembers, laughing.

The couple broke up briefly after young Ron decided he’d like to go out with his mates more. The lad then realised he missed Lily and turned up at her workplace in uniform, An Officer and a Gentleman- style. Ron laughs and says: ‘I was only in uniform because we wore them when we were out and about in those days.’

After a long and successful marriage Lily’s very glad that Ron turned up – both times. They tied the knot, along with Lily’s sister Mary and her husband Bill, on June 6, 1953, a few days after the Queen’s Coronation.

Ron had been stationed in Malta and the couple only managed to get married that year because his ship was returning for the Spithead Review.

During their marriage he was working away for long periods of time and says he found it increasingly hard to be separated from his growing family. But he seized every opportunity he could to be at home.

The couple now have six children, 18 grandchildren, 13 great grandchildren and four more on the way.

Ron retired from the navy as a petty officer in the gunnery branch and then worked for Johnson and Johnson in Cosham.

The whole family are still extremely close and have a big Christmas party and summer barbecue every year. ‘We started off at home and now we have to hire a hall,’ says a very contented Lily.