Kettering couple's love story started in M&S has lasted 70 years

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Peter had spotted wife-to-be Brenda working in the Kettering branch of M&S

Long-distance admiration helped by an encounter at a dance has led to a Kettering couple celebrating 70 years of marriage.

Smitten Peter Walker spent his breaks in M&S so he could admire one of the assistants – wife-to-be Brenda Bridgstock.

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The baker had watched the 17-year-old Brenda pass where he worked in King Street and hung around her workplace hoping to glimpse her.

Brenda and Peter WalkerBrenda and Peter Walker
Brenda and Peter Walker

It was when they both attended a dance at the Town Band Club in Rockingham Road that he finally plucked up the courage to speak to the object of his desire.

He said: “I was very shy. I asked her to dance, but I couldn’t dance so I bought her a drink. It went from there.”

After a year of courting – and dancing – the pair tied the knot.

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Waiting until just after Brenda’s 18th birthday, the couple wed at St Andrew’s Church on October 25 with their reception back at Co-op Hall in King Street.

Peter and Brenda WalkerPeter and Brenda Walker
Peter and Brenda Walker

Peter used his baking skills to make and decorate their splendid three-tier wedding cake.

Brenda said: “We had a simple wedding, not like nowadays. You couldn’t splash out, it was simple.”

A year later daughter Linda was born, followed by sons Mark in 1955 and David in 1959.

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Part of their happy house on the Grange Estate was transformed into a recording studio to encourage David’s musical talents.

Peter and Brenda Walker at their home in KetteringPeter and Brenda Walker at their home in Kettering
Peter and Brenda Walker at their home in Kettering

After inheriting their parents’ love of music and nights out, Peter spent weekends acting as a roadie for David’s band The 4-Teens. Linda is a singer with folk band Hex and melodeon player for the Kettering Witchmen dance group.

Despite Peter’s initial lack of moves on the dance floor, Brenda taught him different styles of dance for their nights out, including old time, modern, rock and disco.

Now members of the Rifle Band Club, the couple still enjoy watching bands every week with a pint of Fosters for 92-year-old Peter and brandy, red wine or Advocaat for Brenda, 88.

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Brenda said: “We still go out – we don’t dance, now we just wave our arms.”

Peter and Brenda Walker on their wedding day at St Andrew's Church, KetteringPeter and Brenda Walker on their wedding day at St Andrew's Church, Kettering
Peter and Brenda Walker on their wedding day at St Andrew's Church, Kettering

As well as their love of music and nights out, the couple have enjoyed a love of gardening, and holidays abroad.

Peter said: “It’s a long while, 70 years, I can’t believe it. I don’t know where the years have gone, especially the last 20 years."

The pair will celebrate their platinum wedding anniversary with their three children, grandchildren Luke, Nathan, Chloe, Hayley, Amy and Emily as well as great-grandchildren Luca, Mindy and Alana.

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Brenda said: “We are going out for lunch, it will be a small celebration. When you get to our age many of our friends are no longer with us. It’s not very nice to think about. The number of friends you have dwindles and you can’t think of who to invite.

"We will celebrate with our family.”

And the secret to a long and happy marriage?

Brenda said: “We have our ups and downs but we work together.”

Peter added: “If one of us is doing a job, the other will help.”