Diamond wedding: Jim and Gwen Butler
Gwen Weekes met Jim Butler at a fireworks display, and he asked her out for a coffee.
Fast forward more than 60 years and the spark is still there, as the couple from Waterlooville celebrated their diamond wedding on April 14.
Gwen, 81, and Jim, 83, marked the occasion with a family meal at the Bird in Hand pub in Lovedean and a lunch with friends.
The pair met in 1953 during a weekly fireworks display at South Parade Pier, and after their first encounter Jim knew that Gwen was the one for him.
‘She was the most beautiful girl in the world. I’ve been lucky to have her,’ he says.
Jim proposed to Gwen in the final seconds of Christmas Day in 1954, so that when the clock struck twelve they would be an engaged couple.
But the fairytale moment could have been less Cinderella and more Sleeping Beauty had Jim not woken up from a much-needed nap in the afternoon.
‘When he came round my house he was sozzled – he’d got drunk during Christmas lunch. He fell in the door and had to go to bed,’ Gwen recalls.
‘But he got up at half past nine in the evening like nothing had happened, and thankfully he remembered to bring the ring!’
The magic continued in 1956 at their wedding, which was held at St James’s Church, Milton, and their reception at The Cambridge Hotel in Southsea.
Gwen says: ‘It had just been built, and it had this grand staircase. I felt like Cinderella walking up it in my wedding dress.’
Everything went to plan, apart from the wedding cake – the couple ordered a two-tier square cake and received a three-tier round one.
But 60 years later they got the correct order, as their grandson James baked them a square cake for their anniversary.
Gwen, a retired teacher, and Jim, a former policeman, have two children – Tracy, 56, and Matthew, 53.
They also have three grandchildren – Fern, 27, James, 23, and Sam, 18 – and one great-grandchild, Jack, four.
According to Gwen, the couple’s secret to a long and happy marriage is having fun.
‘We’ve done a lot of things together over the years, and I have always found Jim to be kind. ‘It’s a funny adjective to use, but that is one of the best qualities to have in a husband.’