It’s pretty special to celebrate your 95th birthday after a lifetime full of achievements, surrounded by loved ones at a party. But Sid Fellows, ex-serviceman and driver of the very last train to grace the Hayling Billy line at Hayling, celebrated another landmark on the same day – 70 years of marriage to his one true love, Vera.
Friends and family gathered at the Lee-on-the-Solent care home where Sid lives to celebrate his birthday and the anniversary.
Eighty-eight-year-old Vera, who has lived most of her married life with Sid in Portsmouth, says: ‘The party was lovely. It doesn’t feel like we’ve been married 70 years because the time has gone so quickly.’
Originally from Swansea in Wales, Sid had many jobs before volunteering to join the Royal Navy.
He served during the Second World War and was a leading seaman in a number of different ships.
His last job was as a coxswain at Langstone Harbour in charge of invasion barges. Sid also served in the freezing North Atlantic, for which he received a special certificate and The Atlantic Star Medal.
The couple’s granddaughter, Michelle, 41, says: ‘Granddad has told me stories about the sea being so cold it froze.’
But it was worth it, because thanks to his decision to join the navy, Sid met the love of his life.
He spotted his wife-to-be after cycling to a pub at Locksway Road, Milton, from the naval base.
Vera says: ‘I was 16 when I met Sid. I went to meet my parents at a pub.
‘I bumped into Sid and he asked me to go for a drink.
‘We kept in touch and started courting, and we’ve been together ever since.’
After the war Sid returned to Swansea and started a greengrocer’s business. He married Vera later the same year at St James’s Church, Portsmouth.
The couple went on to have four children: Paul, 69, Joyce, 66, Vivian, 63, and Jeanette, 60.
They also have nine grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.
Sid and Vera lived in Swansea before returning to Portsmouth, where Sid worked on the railways.
He started as a fireman and worked his way up to engine driver, driving steam trains on the Hayling Billy line.
He was awarded a watch for 30 years of service.
‘Sid knows everything about trains and railways,’ says Vera.
‘I love absolutely everything about him. He’s so generous and loving.
‘We’ve always looked after each other.’
The couple’s granddaughter Sharon, 45, thinks being active is the reason for Sid’s longevity:
‘Grandad never used to sit about. Every day he was on his feet doing something – even decorating other people’s houses.
‘He would do anything for anyone and he’s always been there for his family.
‘To be married for 70 years is an amazing achievement. Nan tells me grandad is her best friend.’