Love is worth waiting for

Bill and Jenny on their wedding day.
Bill and Jenny on their wedding day.
Dr John Steadman, archivist of Portsmouth History Centre based at Portsmouth Central Library     Picture:  Malcolm Wells

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Bill and Jenny Sagrott are preparing to celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary at the beginning of October.

The childhood sweethearts met in Cosham while Bill was studying to become an electrical mechanic in the navy and Jenny was still at school.

‘We met at the bottom of Fifth Avenue in Cosham,’says Jenny. ‘I was only 14 then but if I’d known he was in the navy I’d most probably not have had anything to do with him!’ she laughs.

‘Bill’s cheerfulness made me warm to him and we had an awful lot in common. We were engaged on Bill’s birthday when I was 17 and then he went away to sea for two and a half years.’

Bill’s Navy career let him see a lot of the world but he found it hard being away from his fiancé.

‘I went away around the Mediterranean,’ says Bill. ‘It was difficult and I did miss her. I was looking forward to coming back and getting married.’

The couple finally had their wedding on October 2, 1954, six months after Bill returned home, and the brave electrician’s mate dressed to impress in his naval uniform.

‘He looked very smart,’ says Jenny. ‘But we had to get special permission to get married in the white fronted uniform because on October 1 they changed the uniform to black jumpers.’

Bill’s naval life loomed large once more as he returned to HMS Collingwood just two days after the wedding to continue his training. The couple then had to wait a while to enjoy their honeymoon together – 22 years to be exact.

‘We had our honeymoon in 1976, because we never had time really before that,’ says Bill. ‘We went to Australia and it was wonderful. It was worth waiting for!’ he chuckles.

Despite this Jenny still thinks Bill’s career in the navy has blessed their long-lasting marriage.

‘The navy did us a lot of favours,’ says Jenny. ‘When you marry a service man you’ve got to be prepared but I knew what I was letting myself in for. Bill was away a lot and so I didn’t get chance to get fed up because I was always looking forward to seeing him.’

Bill agrees: ‘Absence definitely makes the heart grow fonder! But every time I came back it was a treat.’

To celebrate their anniversary the couple are having a small afternoon tea, organised by their daughters, with family and friends at Havant Rugby Club.

‘I’m looking forward to it even though I don’t like being the centre of attention,’ says Jenny. ‘But it will be a nice chance to get a photo with all the family.’

And do the couple have any advice for today’s newly-weds?

‘Marriage is about give and take and respecting each other’s feelings,’ says Jenny.

‘Any marriage takes time,’ Bill says. ‘You’ve just got to work at it.’