Couple celebrate blissful 60 years as wedded couple
Geoffrey Cuffley had a special reason for window shopping at a top Great Yarmouth store – it was there that he found his future wife.
Hilda King worked as a window dresser at Arnolds department store, which overlooked King Street and Regent Street in the town centre. She was also a soprano in the choir at Deneside Methodist Central Hall, the church which Geoffrey attended.
Returning to Yarmouth on a Saturday evening after a football trip to Norwich, Geoffrey told his brother he wanted to stay in town rather than travel straight home to Caister. He had a more important mission, one that led to 60 years of happy marriage.
“I decided to try to meet Hilda coming out of work, but I missed her leaving the shop. But I cut through to the bus stop and found her there and asked her if she would like to go out that evening,” he recalled. “She said she couldn’t that night as she was going to a social evening at Deneside – so we went along together. I walked her home and it all started from there.”
The happy couple were married at the Central Hall, now Christ Church, on September 24, 1955, and spent their honeymoon in Torquay. Last weekend, their family gathered at Park House care home in Alexandra Road, Yarmouth, to help them mark their Diamond Wedding anniversary, with staff providing a special celebration tea and presenting them with flowers. Among many gifts and cards was a message of congratulations from the Queen.
Hilda, 85, has been at Park House for nearly two years, while Geoffrey, 89, still lives at Caister with their elder son, Peter, but visits Hilda almost daily. The couple have a younger son, David, daughter-in-law Margarete and two grandchildren, George and Melissa.
Hilda, the sixth of eight children, was born and grew up at Peggotty Road, Yarmouth, and was a wartime evacuee. She and one of her five brothers, David, were sent to the village of Everton in Nottinghamshire from June 1940 to October 1941 before their father decided to bring them home again. “He painted my initials HK on my suitcase,” recalled Hilda.
She joined the Central Hall choir at the age of 14, and remained a member for 57 years, often singing solo. The choir performed at morning and evening services and special events and staged concerts for senior citizens.
Geoffrey joined the Royal Navy as a 17-year-old at Christmas 1943, serving as a Visual Signalman until April 1947. He spent two years and three months overseas, minesweeping in Mediterranean, initially on the MMS 20, then transferring to HMS Truelove in Malta at the end of the war and serving a further two years in uniform.
“One thing I will always remember is that I climbed to the top of the leaning tower of Pisa on my 19th birthday,” he said.
Returning home, Geoffrey trained as a carpenter and joiner and worked in the building trade for many years, then at Tecta Furniture on Yarmouth’s South Denes for 13 years until the factory closed in 1980. He played cricket for Yarmouth Exiles and Caister, and is a lifelong Norwich City fan.