Double celebration as Kettering couple mark 65th wedding anniversary
A Kettering couple who met after bumping into each other are celebrating 65 years of marriage.
And it was a double celebration for Keith Whitmarsh’s wife Mary yesterday (Wednesday) - after she took the unusual step of getting married on her birthday.
Mary and Keith tied the knot at St Andrew’s Church in Kettering on March 6, 1954, the same day Mary turned 19.
Mary said: “When we came out of the church someone shouted ‘happy birthday!’
“He rushed me down the steps when they were taking pictures and I did not get one bit of confetti.”
The pair met when they were both working at the Loake shoe factory in the town but it was only by chance that their paths crossed.
Mary, who turned 84 yesterday, said: “We both worked at Loake’s in Wood Street and they were taking people for a chest X-ray.
“I forgot my papers and went to go and get them and we sort of collided.
“He did not live far away but we had never met and we soon started courting.”
Coincidentally, Mary’s parents also met at the same factory.
Mary and Keith got engaged on Valentine’s Day in 1953 before they wed the following year.
A 65th wedding anniversary in the UK is traditionally marked with sapphire and Mary got a new sapphire ring at Christmas.
When asked what the secret was to a long marriage Keith, 89, said it was good old fashioned give and take.
Mary joked: “What’s his is mine and what’s mine is my own.”
A proud Keith said: “We’re still together and we’re still here.”
They have lived in Kettering their whole life although Keith was called up to do National Service between 1947 and 1949.
Keith spent his life working in the shoe trade in the town before retiring in 1991.
Their children Marian Lund (63), Susan Whitmarsh (60) and Ian Whitmarsh (55) have given them three grandchildren, Victoria, Keith and Yvonne, and four great-grandchildren, Heather, Evan, Tia and Suzu.
Mary and Keith marked the anniversary with a celebratory meal. Later this month they are having a big family gathering.
And the celebrations don’t stop there as next month they will be having another big party as Keith turns 90.
A Loake Shoemaker spokesman said: “At Loake we often talk about the extended Loake ‘family’, which begins with our forefathers who started the Loake brand and includes all the people involved in our story since - from those who make Loake shoes through to those who wear and love them.
“As the fifth generation of the Loake family to be custodians of the Loake brand, we are also grateful to the many generations of local families that have worked in our factory and made this legacy possible, including Mary and Keith Whitmarsh who first met while working in our Wood Street factory and impressively are celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary.
“We’d like to say a huge congratulations to them both!”