First dance led to 50 happy years of marriage

Valerie and John Bird celebrate their golden wedding anniversary.
Valerie and John Bird celebrate their golden wedding anniversary.
Dr John Steadman, archivist of Portsmouth History Centre based at Portsmouth Central Library     Picture:  Malcolm Wells

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Love blossomed for Valerie and John Bird when he asked her to dance.

And now more than 50 years after they first took to the dancefloor together, the couple have just celebrated their golden wedding anniversary.

Valerie and John Bird on their wedding day in 1961.

Valerie and John Bird on their wedding day in 1961.

Valerie was 16 when they first met and John had just turned 18.

‘We met at a place called the Coffee House, in Marmion Road, Southsea,’ explains Valerie.

‘It’s no longer there unfortunately. But we really started going together at Kimbles Ballroom in Osborne Road. We just decided to see each other. One day I was on my own and he was on his own and he asked me to dance and it soon snowballed from that.’

John walked Valerie home that night and the couple started seeing each other regularly, cycling between each other’s homes to meet up.

A three-year courtship followed and Valerie and John tied the knot when she was 19 and he was 21.

They were married on March 25, 1961, at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Fawcett Road.

‘We’ve been married for 50 years but known each other for 53,’ adds Valerie.

‘You grow into each other, you’re friends, you think the same way.’

Valerie and John have two daughters, Sharon and Julie, plus three grand-daughters, Charlotte, Sophie and Emily. Charlotte now has two children of her own, Chloe, three, and Connor, one.

Valerie says the family all live nearby and she and John enjoy spending time with their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The couple celebrated 50 years of marriage with a party at their home in Baffins, Portsmouth.

‘It was lovely,’ says Valerie.

‘People were arriving all the time and it was a lovely day.’

John and Valerie are also treating themselves to a mini-cruise to celebrate.