Portsmouth couple look back over incredible life on 60th wedding anniversary

Since 1969, Cynthia and Patrick Whittle have made their home in Portsmouth. Throughout their lives, they have travelled far and wide at each other’s side helping and teaching others.

Tuesday, 7th April 2020, 6:22 pm
The Whittles outside the Spinnaker Tower.

Now this ‘talented and versatile pair’ are celebrating their diamond anniversary, looking back over an immense 60 years together.

Cynthia, née Buttel, now 82, grew up with Patrick Whittle, 83, and the couple married on April 2, 1960, at St John’s Church, Yeovil. April showers arrived and it rained the whole day, so the official photographer could only salvage a few pictures.

As teenagers, Cynthia was a Guider in the Guide Association and Patrick was a county football referee and air cadet. Similarly, they both trained as teachers – Cynthia in Putney and Patrick in Southampton. Shortly after qualifying, the couple moved to Bournemouth in the early 1960s where they had their son Paul in 1962.

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Patrick and his son Paul at Fratton Park.

Throughout both of their lives, they have practised Christianity and it was their religion which first took them across the water to Uganda. Before they left for their new African life, both Cynthia and Patrick were active members of St John's Church, Boscombe. They worked as teachers as well as Church Mission Society missionaries and loved every minute of it, while Patrick kept up his refereeing. It was in Uganda that they welcomed their daughter Elizabeth in 1964.

They returned to the UK in 1969 and the Whittles were on one of the last ships to travel up the Suez Canal before it was shut. Patrick started working at Portsmouth Polytechnic teaching science education, so his children could enjoy a normal English primary education.

The Whittles subsequently worked in Nigeria with British Council, then in Lesotho, Malawi and Nepal. They continued to be active in Christian matters and helped to encourage Scripture Union (SU) groups in all the places they lived, and were involved in producing SU Bible reading notes in Sesotho for the first time and facilitating the first SU Worker in Maseru, Lesotho.

Cynthia could turn her hand to pretty much anything. She taught domestic Science in Uganda, Integrated Science of biology and chemistry in Nigeria as well as English and Religious Education in Lesotho.

Patrick and Cynthia on their wedding day.

Despite their travels, the couple maintained their home in Portsmouth and upon returning there full time they took up more philanthropic work. Cynthia trained to become a Reader in the Church of England at Christchurch Portsdown, while Patrick became more involved in the Liberal Democrats party and ran as a local candidate for Portsmouth North on several occasions, as well as being active in the local Rotary Club and TWAM (Tools with a Mission).

Despite his overseas work, Patrick’s passion for Pompey did not fade and he was a season ticket holder at Fratton Park, regularly attending matches with his son Paul. But his involvement with the club does not stop there, with him and Cynthia both helping at Faith in Football to assist younger children with their reading. Cynthia had a children's story published called Dora the Dassie, based on wildlife in Lesotho, to help raise funds for Faith in Football and also Sentebale – Prince Harry and Prince Seeiso's joint children’s charity.

Other hobbies throughout life involve arts and animals. Cynthia was a qualified Beekeeper and keen biologist, so the family always had pets, which included wild animals when abroad! As a prolific painter, Patrick belongs to Waterlooville Art Club – he has always been an avid lepidopterist (butterfly enthusiast) so often tries to include a trademark butterfly in his pictures. They are both active in maintaining their beautiful garden – for which Cynthia won one of The News’ Garden In Bloom categories a few years ago.

Unfortunately under government guidelines they are not allowed visitors; their celebratory bus tour was cancelled and Her Majesty's Office is closed until further notice so they haven’t received their congratulatory telegram.

Cynthia and Patrick Whittle together.

But with the support and love of their two children and four grandchildren, The Whittles have made their 60th wedding anniversary as special as they can.

Their daughter Elizabeth says: ‘They’re a very versatile and talented pair. We’re very proud.

‘They still help other friends and neighbours in the locality too, having amazing energy and enthusiasm for their age.’

Cynthia and Patrick with children Elizabeth and Paul in 1976.
Cynthia and Paul with their children and grandchildren.