Rushden lovebirds married for 70 years celebrate with songs and flowers

They met at a dance in Rushden and married two years later

Thursday, 13th May 2021, 10:00 am

A Rushden couple who married 70 years ago have celebrated their seven decades together being serenaded by songs, treated by neighbours with flowers and cards and having a special visit from the town mayor.

Jack and Elsie Smith's son Martyn arranged the special surprise for his parents after contacting Rushden Town Council as he now lives in Germany and was not able to travel to see them - Mayor Melanie Coleman delivered the gifts.

As well as 'The Candy Bars' singer Odette, the couple were treated to a Mrs B’s sandwich emporium home delivery afternoon tea, a special basket of flowers, balloons courtesy of The Original Factory Shop and a card featuring the happy couple on their wedding day.

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John and Elsie on their 70th wedding anniversary inset their original wedding photo

Jack, 96, said: "It was absolutely amazing. The singer was incredible. It brought back memories when she sang We'll Meet Again.

"It was lovely and we were made to feel very special."

Elsie, originally from Hargrave and Rushden-born-and-bred Jack, met at a dance at the Windmill Hall in Rushden when the ex-Navy man asked her to quick-step.

Jack had just left the service as a member of destroyer HMS Valorous and saw action in the Atlantic and North Sea protecting convoys.

Singer Odette from The Candy Bars vocal trio

After a two-year courtship, the couple married at Higham Ferrers Methodist Church on May 12, 1951.

Nature-lover Elsie, 92, said: "It was a beautiful day. We travelled to Torquay by train for our honeymoon and I could see all the primroses on the railway banks from out of the windows of the train."

Returning to Rushden the pair settled down to married life with son Martyn born three years later.

Sharing a love of the natural world, they escaped into the countryside to birdwatch and look at wildflowers or go camping.

John and Elsie were married at Higham Ferrers

Taking early retirement at 60 from his job in the leather industry because of a health scare, Elsie finished work as a floor walker in a shoe factory which gave them more time for leisure.

Jack said: "I loved driving. We'd go all over the place to go bird watching. We've been all over Europe and Britain.

"We never really belonged to any clubs We didn't want to tie ourselves down. We would decide to drive to the coast, we could get up early and be there by 9am, or we'd go to the markets in Bedford or Milton Keynes."

Son Martyn relocated to Germany with wife Kati with Jack and Elsie regular visitors to see grandchildren Annalena, 26, and Ella, 18, and Jake, 34, who remained in the UK with sons Rufus and Felix.

Mayor of Rushden Melanie Coleman with Jack and Elsie

Elsie said: "I think we have been lucky. We have been mates.

"Martyn rings us every day and the neighbours have been looking out for us. We are very content. It doesn't feel like 70 years."