At Friends of the Elderly’s Kidderminster Day Care in Worcestershire, which offers person-centred day care for people living with dementia, to mark this year’s Valentine’s Day, two couples who are clients at the centre have been sharing their thoughts and memories about what they believe makes a long and happy marriage.
Dave and Wendy Gwilliam have been married for 40 years and will be celebrating their landmark Ruby Wedding Anniversary this April. Married in 1983, their first date was to a Corporals’ Mess Christmas function. Wendy said: “Dave was a bit tipsy, but I thought he looked rather dashing in his soldier’s uniform.”
The couple tied the knot at St. George’s Church in Chatham, Kent and honeymooned in Towyn, South Wales 18 months after their big day. “Our Wedding Day was wonderful,” Dave said, “We had a few funny moments though. Our Vicar turned up with muddy shoes – you couldn’t miss them – they were quite a state – and Wendy’s Mum had a few too many tipples. I think that might have been my doing as I had a broken arm so my measures were rather large,” he added.
Dave was a Soldier in the Army for 16 years, before turning his talents to engineering and Wendy was a Data Processor before deciding upon career change to becoming a nurse and care assistant. “We’ve always taken the time to listen to each other and made compromises without any judgement. I suspect that’s one of the keys to our long and happy marriage,” Wendy said. “We share a lot of the same interests too, so we’ve got lots in common, such as our love of walking and music. We used to go to lots of concerts and spend time around the Lake District and Snowdonia. It’s beautiful there,” she added.
With Dave being a Soldier, he was often away from home for long periods of time but has loving memories of the special times they shared together. “Over the last 40 years, there are five, vivid moments that mean so much to me,” he said.
“Wendy meeting me off a plane for our first anniversary – she really surprised me. Then seeing a pregnant Wendy at the top of our stairs at home as I came through the door at the crack of dawn after being away on a three month tour of duty; being so proud of Wendy when she received her Nursing Degree at her Graduation and of course the birth of not only our children, but of our grandchildren too. I am really very lucky,” Dave continued.
“We also keep each other laughing. We used to play practical jokes on each other, but nowadays it’s more along the lines of sarcastic jokes, but it makes us giggle” said Wendy. “The best advice I was given about married life was from my Mother, she told me to make sure to talk each other, which we do – all the time. So, if I could pass on any advice to a younger couple getting married today, I’d say the same and also add to compromise and not to hold any grudges,” Wendy concluded.
Clive and Jean Taylor are another happily married couple who are also clients at Kidderminster Day Care. Tying the knot in 1961, Clive and Jean have been married for 62 years this April and still love being together every day. The couple share a joint enjoyment of gardening and love growing beautiful flowers together. “I think it must stem – no pun intended – from Clive’s career working in the farming industry,” Jean said. “I was an office worker, so pottering around in the garden was a nice change from sitting at my desk all day. Gardening and growing flowers was a lovely joint pastime that grew and bloomed into a real passion.”
Clive and Jean say the secret to their long and happy marriage is that they really, really wanted to be married to each other – “and still do,” added Clive. “We are best friends and soulmates and just love being together,” added Jean. “We naturally make each other laugh and enjoy each other’s company. We always listen to each other and discuss things. We must be the perfect match as 62 years is rather good, isn’t it? I wouldn’t change a thing,” concluded Clive.
Shirley Bradley, Head of Day Care Services at Friends of the Elderly who manages Kidderminster Day Care added: “Wendy, Dave, Jean and Clive are wonderful clients and are always smiling, chatting and taking part in the wide range of meaningful activities we have taking place. With Valentine’s Day and both couples’ Wedding Anniversaries so close together, we wanted to celebrate with them to let them know just how special they are and how special they are to all of us at Kidderminster Day Care.”