Not all couples are lucky enough to experience the stars-colliding sensation of love at first sight.
That much is certain for Anne and Stanley Allen; although they are celebrating their diamond wedding on June 15, their first meetings in 1955 could not have been more disastrous.
‘I disliked him so so much in the beginning, but my mother adored him,’ says 79-year-old Anne, who lived in Gosport at the time but now lives in Fareham with her husband. She explains how she initially resented Stanley after he stole her picnic on a coach trip to Petersfield.
Stanley, 83, retorts: ‘I know she didn’t like me because I nicked her sandwiches, but I was hungry!’
Going their separate ways after that particular coach trip, Anne recalls heading to work one morning, as a chef’s assistant at Eager’s Bakery and Shop on Gosport’s High Street, after being told that Stanley had just broken up with his girlfriend at the time.
‘I was at work as usual, and there was something that came into my head, and I fell in love with Stan,’ she explains. ‘I was very unsettled, and I actually began to feel sick. If that’s lovesickness, I never want to feel it again!’
After work, Anne cycled from her home in the police quarters at HMS Siskin – now Sultan – to Lee-on-the-Solent to clear her head. Getting lost on the way home ended up at the home of her former boyfriend, who was serving with the army in Germany at the time.
Stopping for a cup of tea with her ex-boyfriend’s mother, Anne walked into the living room to find none other than Stanley.
‘He told me he loved the perfume I was wearing,’ she says. ‘I love that kind of compliment from a man.’
‘She had a lovely figure,’ Stan says cheekily, having walked her home later that night.
Later that week, Anne baked cakes for Stan, which they took out to eat while playing a game of Five Stones on Stokes Bay. From there, as Stanley believes, their relationship ‘carried on and blossomed for 60 years’.
‘I still feel the same as I did that day,’ Anne gushes.
As a Royal Marines bandsman stationed at HMS Daedalus, Stanley often played trumpet in the bands that performed at venues like Lee Tower, where Anne would often enjoy dancing.
‘It was all very romantic when the band played special pieces of music for me to dance to,’ says Anne, saying that Answer Me, My Love by Frankie Lane was a particularly special tune for her.
‘I often wonder to myself if anyone can still remember the happy days spent dancing there. Those were some happy memories and very happy days, and we are still just as happy.’
Two years after they started courting, Stanley and Anne married on June 15, 1957, at the tin Garrison Church on Gosport’s Military Road. The ceremony was followed by a wedding breakfast in the church hut.
Anne says: ‘I did all the catering myself and even bought a barrel of beer for the wedding breakfast. Because we never had much money this was the only way we could married, and I always longed to be married in this church.
‘It was a lovely sunny day, and everything was just perfect.’
The couple have two daughters, Julie and Janice, as well as four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
‘It’s the music in all of our lives that makes us happy as a family,’ says Anne.
Stanley and Anne will be heading to Madeira – a particularly beloved destination for the couple – for anniversary celebrations later this month. As well as having a marriage blessing on one of the Portuguese island’s churches, they will also have their wedding rings blessed.
‘I think it’s mainly just the luck of the draw,’ says Stanley, when asked what the secret to a long and successful marriage is. ‘We’ve had our ding-dongs but we’ve never had a really bad argument.’
‘The power of love, or at least the foundation of a relationship, has got to be there right from the beginning,’ his wife adds. ‘You’ve got to be so sure of it.
‘Anything can happen in life, and marriage is exactly like a business: you’ve just got to work very hard at it.’