On your wedding day, you’d probably plan for a few slip-ups.
But you certainly wouldn’t expect the vicar to be driven away in an ambulance five minutes before you walk down the aisle.
Buton February 6, 1948, that’s what happened to Irene and Joseph Stanton. Irene had just arrived at St. Saviour Church, Copnor, with her father, when an ambulance rushed past them and a guest ran out to tell them that the vicar had been rushed to hospital with acute appendicitis.
The next 45 minutes were spent waiting for her father while he ran around town and phoned all the local churches in the attempt to find a free vicar.
He managed to find one and the rest of the wedding went off without a hitch.
Seventy years on, Irene and Joseph laugh about the bizarre start to their marriage.
The two have travelled to many corners of the world since then, and have an ever-growing family to tell their stories to. They have two children, Martin and Janet, six grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren, the youngest being four months old.
Irene and Joseph have known each other since they were teenagers.
Irene says: ‘At the start there was no romance at all – we were just friends.’
When the Second World War broke out, Joseph volunteered in the Navy and was posted to Australia.
‘We used to write to each other while Joe was at Bondi Beach, and he would tell me how lonely he was. One day I went to the pictures with my brother and the Pathé News reel came on. It was about troops fighting in Australia and there Joe was – sunbathing on the beach! My brother still reminds him of it to this day.’
It was shortly after Joseph returned from the navy that the pair became an item.
‘Joe says he proposed to me, but I can’t actually remember it!’ says Irene. ‘I just thought we agreed to get married somewhere along the line, but Joe says he proposed and he danced all the way home after I said yes.’
The couple have a passion for travel.
At one point they added new stamps to their passports every year.
Irene says: ‘We’ve been all over the continent on a cruise, and to America.
‘We both love gambling so we spent a fortnight in Las Vegas.’
Irene believes the secret to a long and happy marriage is to talk things through.
‘We agree on most things, and even if we don’t, we talk about them.
‘That’s not to say we don’t have rows, because we do. Anyone who tells you they don’t is lying.
‘Really we’re just good friends.
‘We’ve shared each other’s hobbies.
‘Joe loved playing bowls, so I would go with him and he would come with me to darts.’
The couple will celebrate their anniversary with a big family party, and will also be marking Irene’s 90th birthday at the same time.