75 years of wedded bliss for Caister couple

THEY were brought together because of a motorbike accident, but 75 years of marriage has been a pretty smooth ride for a Caister couple.

Celebrating their big day on Friday, and surrounded by flowers and cards, friends and family, great grandparents Fred and Elsie Jones fondly reminisced about their first meeting.

Fred, 95, had spotted his future wife with a friend dancing on a bandstand near the seafront at Portsmouth, near to where they both lived, and he encountered her again at a social dance in a village hall.

That night, aged 19, she refused to ride on his motorbike – possibly wisely, considering what was to follow some time later.

Fred explained: “I had an accident on my bike when I got nudged by a tram, and hurt my leg badly. I had to use crutches and walk miles to and from the hospital, and it was a coincidence, but I had to pass near where she lived – so I bumped into her there.

“She must have taken a liking to me because she was on the corner and gave me a wave, and it carried on from there.”

For her part, corset factory worker Elsie liked what she saw, comparing his looks to crooner Bing Crosby, and deciding that this time she would let him ferry her around on his motorbike, despite her father’s disapproval.

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“A lot of the girls were after him but I managed to put my oar in,” said the 94-year-old, “and my father threatened to give me a good beating if he saw me on the bike.

“So I used to go round the corner to meet him.”

It was a whirlwind romance for the couple and, within the year they had tied the knot – not that it stopped Fred from being called back to his job as a butcher in the afternoon of the big day.

Eventually settling in a council house in the town, the couple had the first of three children before enduring the torments of being separated during the second world war raids.

Whilst his new family was hidden underground in a shelter, as bombs fell, Fred served as an ARP warden.

“I didn’t like leaving the family at all,” he said, “and when they below ground I was up above, and sometimes it looked like the whole of Portsmouth was alight, especially when they dropped incendiaries.

“We were by the sea, and you could see the bombs dropping into the water with a splash.”

It was in 1965 that they came to Great Yarmouth, with Fred running Bells the butchers on Northgate Street with his brother Leonard, and the family living over the business.

They even had a celebrity regular in the form of the late Danny La Rue when he was appearing in shows at the resort.

Two years later they moved to Caister.

Fred retired at the age of 64.

Over the decades, they have enjoyed many holidays in Benidorm: “Back in the days when the beaches were empty and it was a village”.

They also enjoyed fishing at midnight together as the tide went out at North Denes beach in Yarmouth.

Of their time together, Elsie said: “We’ll have a little barney every so often, but it’s been plain sailing.

“It’s about give and take in love, and in housekeeping, and we’ve always done everything together.”