Leigh Park's Dennis and Patricia Read celebrate 60 years together
‘We have to blame my mum – she thought he was the cat’s whiskers,’ says Patricia, as she looks adoringly at her husband of 60 years, Dennis Read.
He smiles and quips: ‘She’s a very lucky girl to have me.’
Laughing and grinning as they reminisce about their life together, Patricia and Dennis fondly recall memories of when they first met.
Patricia, nee O’Neil, explains: ‘We practically lived opposite each other in the corner houses in Wymering Lane.
‘I used to go to school with his sister – he was known as the lad on the corner.
‘He asked me to go to the pictures one day. My mum said I should go because she thought he was a lovely boy. He was.’
Dennis joined the Royal Marines in 1958 and was looking forward to a fulfilling career ahead of him. But before he left on deployment, he knew he had to ask the love of his life to marry him.
‘We got engaged on August 4, 1959,’ adds Dennis, 79.
Patricia laughs and says: ‘He didn’t get down on one knee. He just said “shall we get married?”’
And so they did on February 6, 1960, at St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Wymering, when Patricia was 17 and Dennis was 18.
‘I remember seeing the vicar before I went to the church. He said “don’t worry, he’s there waiting for you”. And he was,’ says Patricia, 77.
‘Less than a month after our wedding, Dennis was posted on HMS Bulwark in 42 Commando. He sailed from Portsmouth at the beginning of March that year.
‘When he came back he was a daddy.’
The Reads had their first daughter Sheryl in December 1960 while Dennis was onboard Bulwark and Patricia was at her Wymering childhood home with her mother.
She says: ‘I worked as a shopkeeper until Dennis came home and then we moved to North End.
‘Then the navy found us a flat in Hilsea and we stayed there for 18 months until Dennis was posted to Aden with 45 Commando.’
Although it may be an odd thing to remember, Patricia vividly recalls the weather at the time of the birth of their second daughter Jacqui during the Big Freeze winter of 1962/63.
She adds: ‘Jacqui was born on December 28, 1962. I had her at home in Wymering and the midwife couldn’t get down the lane because of the snow.
‘I remember we had such freezing weather that year.
‘We then moved to Rowner while Dennis was stationed at Eastney Barracks.’
Two years after Dennis left the Royal Marines in 1967, their third daughter Sally-Ann was welcomed into the world.
‘We then moved to Leigh Park where we have been now for 53 years,’ adds Patricia.
Looking back now, the Reads are amazed at what has happened during their 60 years together.
‘I can’t believe it,’ admits Patricia.
‘It’s a bit surreal – I remember our wedding day like it was yesterday.
‘I can’t believe what we have fit everything in.’
Dennis smiles and says: ‘I think it’s great we have been married 60 years.’
To celebrate their diamond anniversary, the Reads are going back to where it all began. They will be blessed at St Peter and St Paul’s Church – where they got married – as well as enjoying a lunch at Langstone Hotel, Hayling Island, and a party at Horndean Technology College with their three daughters, eight grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and friends.
‘We’re very lucky to have such a lovely family,’ adds Patricia, as she squeezes her husband’s hand.