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Car crash shaped couple's life together

PUBLISHED: 14:49 26 March 2010 | UPDATED: 17:12 30 June 2010

IT was at the scene of a terrible car crash that a couple learned how to best appreciate living each day to the fullest.

Alan and Gloria Smith, now celebrating their golden wedding, were engaged sweethearts when they had an accident in Great Yarmouth which shaped their lives together.

IT was at the scene of a terrible car crash that a couple learned how to best appreciate living each day to the fullest.

Alan and Gloria Smith, now celebrating their golden wedding, were engaged sweethearts when they had an accident in Great Yarmouth which shaped their lives together.

Alan, 77, said: “The wheel of our car had come off and we hit a pole on the side of the road but when Gloria went into hospital I was told that the next 24 hours would be critical for her.

“She made it through though, and since then we've had a fantastic life together. She has lived every day as it comes and nothing worries her, so being married to her, it's rubbed off on to me.”

The circumstances that initially brought them together were altogether more lighthearted, and their courtship began in 1958 with chocolates, though not in the conventional way.

Gloria had gone to the former Regent Cinema in Yarmouth and spotted Alan, who she knew had served in the RAF with her brother in Egypt. He was sitting a few rows back and so, to catch his attention, she threw some well-aimed chocolates.

It was a shot that found its target, in the form of Alan's head, and this was the beginning of a relationship that would stand the test of time and result in five children.

Engaged not long after meeting, and having coped with the traumatic accident, the couple were wed at Yarmouth's Town Hall in March 1960 with many of Gloria's Italian family - her grandfather having moved from Florence years before - crossing the North Sea to be with them.

After a honeymoon in London, the newlyweds lived in Sprowston before returning to Yarmouth and Alan, who had been a firefighter after leaving the RAF in 1954, went on to join Gloria at her father Joseph Mancini's local ice cream business.

While her husband retrained and eventually became head chef at Kings Casino on Theatre Plain, Gloria went on to run the ice-cream business from Yarmouth's central market before retiring in 2004.

Though the great grandparents of seven celebrated the day of their anniversary quietly last Friday, tomorrow will be a different matter entirely.

Alan said: “We're going to have a big party at The Masonic Rooms with hopefully about 80 friends and family, which should be lovely affair.”

The couple are asking for donations to the Palliative Care East Appeal instead of gifts to mark their anniversary.

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