Secret golden wedding party shocks Joe

Pat and Joe Cowles. ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (132011-3218)
Pat and Joe Cowles. ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (132011-3218)
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David Curwen, centre, hugs his mother with whom he wa sreunited. Completing the group is his brother Keith

THIS WEEK IN 1975: Reunited after 30 years – but only thanks to a kind stranger

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Joe Cowles thought he would be spending his golden wedding quietly with a few close friends and relatives.

But wife Pat had organised a surprise party and he was greeted by about 50 people.

The couple started their celebrations by going to see Dreamboats and Petticoats at Southsea’s Kings Theatre with about 14 friends.

Joe thought they were then going back to Pat’s brother Derek’s house for a quiet drink, but there was a house full of people waiting.

‘He got a bit of a shock,’ laughs Pat, explaining that keeping the party secret was difficult. ‘There was quite a lot of organising to be done. I had to tell him I was going to bingo for someone’s birthday. I’d only been to bingo once in my life.’

The couple met at the Odeon picturehouse in Cosham. ‘Joe was sat behind me. I had my hair tied up with a ribbon and he kept flicking my hair,’ recalls Pat.

Joe, who comes from Malta, and Pat settled in Portsmouth, although they were tempted at times to move to the Mediterranean island. Instead they have visited regularly.

The couple, who now live in Cowplain, have two daughters – Lisa and Nina – and three grandchildren.

Joe, 74, was an electrician before retiring and 67-year-old Pat is a cleaning supervisor at Queen Alexandra Hospital. She has worked for the NHS for 42 years.

She wants to thank everyone for coming to the party and the friends and family who helped to organise the special day.