Irchester diamond wedding couple's love of tug of war helped them pull together

Proud Scots Mary and Rod Graham have lived in Irchester for more than 50 years

Thursday, 25th March 2021, 7:00 am

An Irchester couple who met outside a village shop as teenagers in Scotland and competed for England in tug of war competitions will celebrate 60 years of marriage today (Thursday).

Mary and Rod Graham met in Monikie near Dundee in 1960 when Mary was a nanny for a local family and Rod was working on a dairy farm, marrying a year later.

The couple moved to England, first to Sussex and then to Bozeat, finally settling in Irchester where they raised their family - daughter Christine and son Gus - their first-born Mary had died a month after her birth.

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Mary and Rod Graham

Christine Hunt, speaking from County Kildare, Ireland said: "Dad was in construction all his life and built some of the first houses in Milton Keynes. Mum worked in the little Tesco in Rushden and then in Wellingborough.

"They were both heavily involved in tug of war both pulling for England winning gold medals - as a proud Scotsman it broke his heart to put on an England shirt.

"Both were very involved in tug of war travelling the country at weekends for competitions. They also travelled to Switzerland, Italy, Holland, Ireland, Jersey and the Isle of Wight for world and European championships."

Rod won a world championship medal in 1997 and as well as competing and coaching tug of war, Rod played football for Bozeat and Leylands, and was a keen competitive skittles player.

Rod in the front row on the 1997 Tug of War World Championships

Christine said: "For them it's all about family. They are Scottish living in England with English grandsons who speak with an Irish accent. It's very funny."

After the loss of their first daughter Mary in 1962, Mary and Rod went on to have Christine, born in 1963 and Gus in 1965 a 'Hogmanay' baby.

They now have five grandchildren - Christine (named after her aunt), James who lives in Wellingborough, and Andrew, Paul and Gary.

With the family living across different countries - Gus moved back to Scotland - and the lockdown restrictions, the couple will not be seeing any family including the newest members of the clan, their great-grandchildren Annabelle and Parker born in Ireland during lockdown.

Their cake

But the couple hope to have a family reunion after travel restrictions are lifted.

Christine said: "Up until last year mum would have travelled back and forward to Ireland and also travelled with me on her beloved sun holidays to Egypt, Cyprus, Florida, Holland and the Canary Islands.

"They both have travelled to Scotland many times to visit family and friends over the years.

"At home they both enjoy doing car boots and since retirement that had become a weekend pursuit. Obviously since Covid that has curtailed this, so dad spends days pottering in his garage and they both spend time doing a bit of gardening.

Rod coached Mary's team

"Their passion is their family and what has kept them together is their love of tug of war and family.

"They love their grandchildren and hopefully dad will get to meet his great-grandchildren before the end of the year."