It was touch and go as to whether Ralph Harrison would make it to his wedding on time.
The groom-to-be was in the Royal Marines and returned from an assignment in Aden with just a day to spare.
It was then a quick dash by train from Plymouth to Portsmouth to marry fiancee Pam at St Andrew’s Church in Henderson Road, Eastney, Portsmouth.
‘I was the first off the ship, put it that way,’ says Ralph. ‘We were supposed to be home earlier and I really didn’t think I was going to get there.’
But the groom made it to the church on time and the couple enjoyed a cold but lovely wedding day on December 22 during the big freeze of 1962/63.
The weather may have made the wedding party shiver but it soon turned to the couple’s advantage when the they were snowed in during their honeymoon. They had to spend an extra week on the Isle of Wight.
Ralph, 73, and Pam, 72, spent several years in Singapore where their children Mark and Debra were born. Ralph, a signaller in the service, was sent to Borneo during the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation and spent 18 months away from his family.
He left the service in 1967 and they lived in Portsmouth. But after Ralph became a prison officer they moved several times with his work. ‘We’ve lived in about 14 different houses,’ laughs Pam, adding. ‘It doesn’t feel like 50 years. I always say it’s worked because he’s had his own way and I’ve done as I’m told. But actually you both compromise as you’re two different people. As long as you have affection for each other, it works.’
The Waterlooville couple are celebrating their golden wedding with a family meal.