George and Meg Oliver have been by each other’s side for more than 60 years – through the good times and the difficult times.
Now the Gosport couple have marked their diamond wedding with a weekend of celebrations, joined by friends, family and faces they haven’t seen for years.
George and Meg moved to Gosport last year after wanting to downsize from their home in Nottingham, although they are both originally from South London, where they met.
Eighty-four-year-old George says: ‘We met at a Christian Union prayer meeting at University College London. I was studying English and Meg worked in the library.’
George was about to ask Meg out, when she left to go and work somewhere else.
‘As prayer secretary of the Christian Union I was able to find out where Meg had moved to, and I wrote to her.
‘She knew me as being shy, and it turns out when Meg got the letter, she’d been wondering whether I’d be able to cope with her,’ chuckles George.
The couple married at the South Lee Baptist Church in London in 1956, while George was on leave from the army.
Meg, who is also 84, says: ‘I can remember walking up the aisle and joining George, and nearly bursting into tears because I was so happy.
‘We got the coach to Sussex after the wedding and George was fast asleep because he suffers with a mild form of narcolepsy. I remember thinking, “this is how it’s going to be,”’ she laughs.
After they married, the couple stayed in London before moving to Southend-on-Sea, where they lived for 35 years. After retiring they moved to Nottingham, where they stayed for 23 years.
They have two daughters, Ruth and Susan, who are both in their 50s. They also have four grandchildren and one great-grandchild on the way.
George had a number of different jobs through his career, mostly involving the teaching of religious education.
Although Meg had eventually got a history degree and two social work diplomas before becoming a social worker in a hospital, she took a break to support her husband when he became the inspector for religious education for inner London.
Meg says: ‘George needed to be able to not worry about anything except the job, and I was all right about that. I got satisfaction out of looking after him.’
Throughout their relationship, the couple have always been active in church life, which was more important than ever when the couple had a stillborn child before Ruth was born.
George says: ‘Our faith is the heart of our marriage. It’s a shared commitment which has been basic all the way through.
‘When we lost our little boy it was very traumatic, but our faith kept us going.’
Despite the heartache, the couple stayed strong and went on to have some wonderful memories over the years, including a holiday in Greece and trips to Cornwall.
George and Meg had one celebration in Nottingham last month and on Thursday they had a tea party at their home in Gosport, which about 50 people attended.
On Saturday, they went on a Thames barge trip with family and sailed over to the Isle of Wight and back.
George says: ‘It was a magnificent weekend.
‘We saw people we hadn’t seen for years that came from all different parts of the country.
‘We feel astonished to have reached 60 years of marriage.
‘You live a day at a time and you take on responsibilities and challenges, and suddenly you find you’ve been married 60 years.’