Meeting your future father-in-law for the first time is daunting enough, but Jim Sholl’s encounter was in a foreign country during the Second World War.
After he came back to Portsmouth he married his sweetheart Sheila Henderson and today the Purbrook couple are celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary.
‘It doesn’t seem possible, it is such a long time,’ says Sheila, 90.
‘I feel much the same,’ Jim adds. ‘We have had a great life and we are still going strong now. We just hope it continues really.’
The couple met before the war when Jim, 91, was in his mid-teens. Jim lived in Havant Road and Sheila lived in Portchester Road. He says: ‘Sheila used to ride her bike up and down my road and she caught my eye.’
Jim joined the Royal Marines and before the Second World War broke out he was on board the HMS Glasgow, which was the escort ship for King George VI’s visit to New York.
We have had a great life and we are still going strong now. We just hope it continues really.Jim Sholl, 91, from Purbrook
When Jim returned to Portsmouth Dockyard, he was stood next to the young princesses at the railway jetty. According to Jim, they were holding hands waiting for the King and Queen’s ship to arrive.
During the Second World War, Jim had an unlikely first meeting with Sheila’s father William Henderson.
The two became acquainted while on duty in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka.
‘He was a chief petty officer on board the HMS Repulse. It pulled into the harbour and we had a run ashore together,’ says Jim.
‘We got on well. We went to the sailors club and had a pint or two, chatting away. He was always joking about the boyfriends she had at home.
‘I had no idea how he knew who I was. He might have been back in England when one of my letters to Sheila arrived and got my name from that.’
During the war, Sheila worked for Handley’s in Southsea, now Debenhams, and Pinks, a corner shop in Dunbar Road where Sheila had to give out the rations.
Soon after Jim came back, the couple got married in the Buckland Congregational Church on Kingston Road in 1945.
The couple returned to the church as part of their 70th anniverary celebrations.
After being in the Royal Marines, Jim became a wholesale newsagent and ran Southsea News on Winter Road.
‘I used to drive and deliver papers for The News,’ says Jim. ‘I had to be up at quarter to three in the morning to tie up the parcels because there were no machines at that time.’
The couple have a daughter Jenny. To celebrate their anniversary, the couple’s granddaughter Louise organised for a card from the Queen to be delivered, which has made Sheila want to adopt her signature hairstyle.
Jim’s sisters Ruth, 80, and Dorothy, 94, came to visit, and the couple are going for a meal to the Rusty Cutter in Bedhampton today with family.