The agenda reads ‘party, party, party’ for Alan and Shirley Wareham as they get set to celebrate their diamond wedding in style.
As well as a celebratory lunch with family, the Fareham couple – who married 60 years ago this month – will be having a big commemorative bash at HMS Excellent in Portsmouth.
‘We don’t ever say no to anything,’ explains Shirley, 78.
Although Alan and Shirley’s paths probably crossed quite regularly when they were both teenagers at work in Portsmouth’s dockyard – Alan was an electrical fitter apprentice while Shirley, née Devlin, was a wages clerk – they were first properly acquainted through a prank at Buckland Youth Centre.
While a 17-year-old Alan indulged in his favourite hobby of snooker, someone dropped a handbag on his hand, prompting intentionally audible fits of laughter across the room from Shirley.
‘I already had my eye on him,’ says Shirley, who was just 16 when she and Alan first properly met. ‘I made sure that I had a specific laugh that would get his attention.’
‘She may have had her eye on me, but I was always more interested in the snooker,’ admits Alan. now 79.
‘My best mate walked her home one night and he told me that she liked me instead.’
Shirley says that ‘it was all downhill for him’ from there, as they spent more and more time with each other at the youth club.
‘We were only young, but he was a good-looking man as he is now,’ Shirley beams.
The young couple were married in an intimate ceremony on February 23, 1957 at Portsmouth Register Office.
They’ve since gone on to have three children – Gary, Julie and Tracy – as well as six grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren, with a fourth on the way.
‘We’ve got a marvellous family,’ says Shirley, who worked for Post Office Counters for 34 years.
‘We all look after each other, and they certainly look after us. We’ve always been very close, even though we’re always very busy.’
With all three kids spending individual stints living in Moraira, Spain, Alan and Shirley always took the opportunity of a holiday – even though Alan was often roped in for his handy DIY skills during these trips.
‘It’s all about giving and taking,’ says Shirley of the generosity that her husband shows. ‘You must respect and treat each other the way you would like to be treated yourself.’
‘I’m not ever one to hold grudges anyway and I never go silent,’ argues Alan, who took on a variety of jobs, including sales executive at Hendy Ford in Cosham for 16 years.
‘The secret is to make the other person think they’re always right!’ he laughs.
While Alan and Shirley will be extensively marking their 60th wedding anniversary in the presence of family and friends, they are also making sure to have more private celebrations, with a short break in the Cotswolds also in the diary.
‘He works hard, he’s very clever, he’s got a great sense of humour and he does everything for everybody without moaning,’ beams Shirley.
‘She’s so genuine and kind to everybody, she doesn’t real
ly ever think ill of anybody,’ says Alan. ‘She’s just a nice person all round and I’m glad I’m married to her.’