Northamptonshire couple who started out as pen pals celebrate 71 years of marriage

They met up through his sister who had been stationed in the Women’s Land Army
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Between them they’ve survived the Blitz, dodged bombs, survived life in care and being split up by social services.

But now a couple has celebrated more than seven decades of marriage.

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John and Marion Cater, who now live in Kettering, met in Northamptonshire after the bachelor was asked to write to his sister’s shoe-shop work colleague.

John and Marion Cater/National WorldJohn and Marion Cater/National World
John and Marion Cater/National World

Brought together at Stead and Simpson in Daventry, the pair corresponded on and off for at least two years – only meeting three times in person.

But it was only when John was on six weeks’ home leave that he spent more time with Marion – a regular visitor to John’s family home – and the couple finally got together.

John, 91, said: “We fell in love. After a few weeks she said ‘what about getting married?’ I said ‘alright, let’s get married’. I’d bought a ring for 19s6d.”

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The couple wanted to get married as soon as possible, but because Marion had been taken into care as a young child, John was told he had to get permission from her long-lost mother. Tracking her down to Devizes, they were finally granted consent on the condition she could see her daughter.

John and Marion Cater on their wedding day/UGCJohn and Marion Cater on their wedding day/UGC
John and Marion Cater on their wedding day/UGC

John had to go back to his Royal Air Force job so they tied the knot at the registry office on February, 21, 1953, in Walworth Town Hall beginning their married life in London.

He said: “She hated life in London, she was a country girl. We lived in a street that they kept demolishing until there were only two houses.

"She got a four-way house switch. She said ‘we’re going to move’, I said ‘we can’t just move’, she said ‘yes we can’.”

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All five of their children – Geraldine, Irene, John, Joy and Alison – were born in London. The family moved to Daventry in 1970 with John (senior) working for the Green Shield Stamp company.

Enjoying their new life in the county, the couple threw themselves into activities on offer becoming members of Danetre Entertainers as all-singing, all-dancing members of the cast, as well as becoming keen bowlers at Daventry Bowls Club.

A move across to Kettering in 2009 to be closer to daughter Alison has seen the couple celebrate their diamond and platinum wedding anniversaries with cards from two monarchs.

As well as their five children, the pair have welcomed 13 grandchildren, great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.

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Marion, 89, said: “It’s been fun. You get over the bad moments. We’ve never had a stand up row. We have just loved one another.”

The devoted couple despite some health issues are still enjoying independence, with help from their family.

John added: “She said to me years and years ago, never put me in a home, I was in one once and I don’t want to go back in one. Those scars run deep.

"I have always tried to boost her up – you have to respect your partner – and we always kiss goodnight.”