Love. Respect. Honour.
According to John and Evelene Garrett, who celebrated their diamond wedding on January 5, those are the three key ingredients to a long and prosperous relationship.
‘We have some ups and downs’, admits John, 82. ‘But it’s just like the English weather: sunshine comes!’
John, who spent 25 years in the regulating branch of the Royal Navy, was spending his leave in August 1954 with a friend in Bournemouth Gardens when he stumbled upon telephonist Evelene Nash, who was holidaying from London with her family.
‘We saw Eve with her sister, and we did ‘the usual’’, John chuckled. ‘My friend’s relationship with Eve’s sister didn’t develop, but we went on with it.’
‘I’d only just started my holiday with my parents, so for the time I was in Bournemouth we got to know each other, and then we carried it on’, says Evelene, 88. ‘He used to come up to London or I would go to Bournemouth.’
In 1957, after more than two years of their long-distance relationship, the couple married at Ifold Congregational Church – just three doors down from John’s childhood home in Bournemouth.
‘It wasn’t a white wedding, but I never wanted a white wedding or all that fuss,’ says Evelene, who wore a grey suit and pink blouse for her big day. ‘I just wanted the church, and it was the wedding that I always wanted.’
They went on to have one child, Alan, who is now 49 and lives in Andover.
John and Evelene also have two granddaughters and three great-grandchildren, the youngest of whom is four-year-old Ava.
It was just as they bought their bungalow in Fareham, where they still live today, in 1966 that John’s naval career sent them on a globetrotting adventure together.
‘The day that I signed the final papers for the bungalow, I went into the barracks and there was an appointment down to South Africa’, John says.
‘We were in the bungalow for three months before we went down to Cape Town.’
John and Evelene also spent two years in Mauritius with their son.
‘It was very nice’, says John. ‘I would like to have it again. These days, you’d pay a couple of thousand for a week out there!’
As they celebrate 60 years of marriage, it seems that all John and Evelene need is their friendship to be truly happy.
‘I think I know as much about John as I know about myself’, says Evelene.
‘I know she couldn’t find anything better, so she saw me as a bread ticket!’ John laughed.
‘Speak for yourself’, Evelene quickly retorted. The couple giggled together as if they were newlyweds.
John smiles: ‘God and nature probably wouldn’t permit it, but we’d love another 60 years together.’