Double diamond wedding celebration for Irthlingborough sisters married on the same day

The Bailey sisters were married at St Peter's Church in the town

By Alison Bagley
Tuesday, 13th July 2021, 7:00 am

A pair of sisters whose father had wanted to economise with a joint marriage ceremony have celebrated their diamond wedding anniversaries together.

Dorothy and Janice Bailey walked down the aisle of St Peter's Church in their home town of Irthlingborough with fiancés Paul Brooke and Peter Childs on July 1, 1961.

Sixty years on they have celebrated their anniversary with a meal and a socially-distanced family get-together but it was their father's eagerness to 'give away' his two eldest daughters that sticks in one of the bride's memory.

Janice and Peter Childs and Paul and Dorothy Brooke with inset their wedding day Paul and Dorothy and Janice and Peter.

Dorothy Brooke, 82, who lives in Irthlingborough, said: "My dad always wanted two sons and I think he couldn't wait to get us married. I remember he had me by one elbow and Janice by the other and he marched us up the aisle and kind of shoved us towards the altar. It was very funny."

Younger sister Janice, now 80, had met her husband-to-be Peter, 83 on the dancefloor of the Harmonic Hall, but had to wait for him to finish his National Service in the army.

Meanwhile Dorothy was courting Paul, now 82, who had just finished an apprenticeship at Marconi - both couples wanting to marry and start their lives together.

Janice said: "Both of us couples were split up - Paul was away do his apprenticeship and Peter was doing his national service. We kept writing to each other and wanted to get married. Dad said we could have a joint wedding. We both wanted to get married in 1961."

Cutting the cakes

Married in dresses made by their mum, a professional tailor and seamstress, the two brides were accompanied by their two younger sisters, Eileen and Vivien.

Janice said: "We absolutely loved it - It was the event of the year for the town."

But their honeymoons got off to an unusual start as they had to break into their family home. Leaving the reception in the wedding finery, the couples drove back to their parents' Alexander Road home without house keys.

They had to ask the boy next door to 'break in' to an open upstairs window so they could change into their going away outfits ready for their separate honeymoons.

Paul and Dorothy with Janice and Peter outside St Peter's Church, Irthlingborough

Janice said: "They went off to Galway Bay and we went off to the Costa Brava on an aeroplane for the first time on one of the early package holidays. I wore a suit made by my mum, and a pair of long gloves, Peter wore a suit. It's a bit different now."

As well as sharing their wedding day, the sisters had their children in the same years - Dorothy's son Andrew and Janice's son Stewart in 1962 and their siblings Marcus and Emma born four years later. Between them they have seven grandchildren and Janice and Peter became great-grandparents to baby Malika this year.

Former teacher Janice, who lives in Finedon, was awarded an MBE for services to Irthlingborough's College Street Centre - built by husband Peter.

Dorothy and Paul moved back to Irthlingborough to found electronics company Sonifex, and it's hard work that has been the secret to their success according to Janice.

She said: "We are very, very lucky. We've all worked hard. Peter was a builder, I was a teacher, Dorothy and Paul started their own business. We've had to work hard. We've always worked together and have led busy lives - it's a lot of give and take."

Every year the couples celebrate with an anniversary meal, taking it in turns to foot the bill. As well as a trip to Zizzi at Rushden Lakes, a party was hosted at Pizzeria Venezia in Rushden. Most of the family were able to attend.

Dorothy added: "We have all been so very lucky. It has gone so fast. You have to make the most of every minute. It doesn't seem like sixty years - the time has just whooshed by."

Janice added: "The sixty years have gone so quickly. We are very blessed that we are all still here and still all together."