Lee-on-the-Solent couple celebrate golden wedding after meeting as training pilots
Martin and Margaret Marks, from Lee-on-the-Solent, are celebrating their golden wedding and admit that the past 50 years have flown by – quite literally.
Both fully-licensed pilots for light aircraft, Martin Marks and Margaret, née Osborne, are quite comfortable in the cockpit or flight deck. Martin, who met Margaret while he was studying at the Royal Naval College, describes the beginning of their love story as a ‘Top Gun-like situation’ – but without the aviators.
Martin, 76, explains: ‘I was a student on the advanced marine engineering course at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich. Margaret taught me computer programming for three periods a week in Fortran 4.
‘Our first date was dinner at the top of the GPO tower (now known as the BT Tower).
‘Margaret thought: "A handsome young naval officer in his uniform”. Martin thought: “A very attractive and clever lady”.’
Despite only meeting at the college in Greenwich, the couple came from similar backgrounds but grew up in different areas.
Martin says: ‘Margaret’s father was in the army, stayed on in Germany post war to settle refugees. He then opened a tobacconist/sweetshop in south London.
‘My father was also ex-army and ran a very old family business in Stoke-on-Trent, a builders’ merchants H N Marks & Co.’
When the couple first started courting, they inspired one another to take up a new interest. Margaret, who was a qualified sub-aqua diver, encouraged Martin to start diving. Whereas Martin, a very adept tennis player who represented the Royal Navy on occasions, coached Margaret on the court.
It was quite the whirlwind romance for Martin and Margaret, who met in November 1970 and were married by April 1971.
‘I proposed on New Year’s Day 1971 when Margaret stayed with my parents,’ says Martin.
The couple tied the knot at the naval college in Greenwich on April 3, 1971, and had their wedding reception at Greenwich Theatre.
Martin explains: ‘We honeymooned in Minorca but Margaret spent most of the week in bed with flu! She felt ill during the wedding ceremony and we were married sitting on a pair of thrones that are still in the chapel today. We sighted them recently.’
The couple both had very fulfilling careers. Martin reached the rank of Commander in the Royal Navy before retiring, while also working as a safety and security officer and professional engineer. Margaret went on to be an IT Higher Executive Officer in the civil service, working in Portsmouth Dockyard and HMS Centurion.
Martin was awarded an OBE in 1999 at Buckingham Palace for his services to military medicine at Haslar Hospital, Gosport.
Martin explains: ‘We both became sub aqua instructors – Margaret was the first woman to be a regional coach for the British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC).’ Martin became chair of the BSAC Diving Incident Panel.
He adds: ‘We’re both now retired from active diving. However, we both volunteer for the Diving Museum in Gosport – hoping to reopen later this year. I look after health, safety and security.
‘Margaret produces a newsletter for volunteers and organises art exhibitions. She also writes/directs/acts in plays for the Museum Amateur Dramatics group which has been live in the museum but recently on Zoom.’
Despite still holding pilot licences, the Marks’ have lent themselves to other flying things in the form of bees and are avid beekeepers, with two hives in their garden.
Looking back on the past 50 years, Martin reflects: ‘It came up very quickly – we have both had a very full and busy life. We have postponed the big friends and family event and enjoyed celebrating at home, just us: champagne, fillet steak, good red wine.
‘We’ll go for a 51st event instead!’