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From dance floor to diamond joy

PUBLISHED: 14:17 16 April 2009 | UPDATED: 09:18 11 May 2010

Happy couple: Jack and Audrey Ward.

Happy couple: Jack and Audrey Ward.

IT'S been a match made in heaven for a Bradwell couple who celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary last Thursday.

Jack and Audrey Ward, of Beccles Road, marked the 60-year milestone with family and friends and say they are “amazed” to reach the landmark anniversary.

IT'S been a match made in heaven for a Bradwell couple who celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary last Thursday.

Jack and Audrey Ward, of Beccles Road, marked the 60-year milestone with family and friends and say they are “amazed” to reach the landmark anniversary.

Jack, 82, who spent 50 years as a football referee, first spotted Audrey on the dance floor at the Goods Hotel, Yarmouth, in 1945.

“We had a couple of dances then he disappeared. I thought he was weird,” said Audrey, not knowing at that time that Jack had travelled back to London where he had been stationed during the war dealing with bomb rockets that fell on the capital.

Jack would spend six weeks at a time in London, and once he returned to Yarmouth after the war he headed to the Goods Hotel for a dance, where the couple met once again and began dating. And in 1946, on Audrey's 18th birthday, Jack proposed.

“He'd asked for my father's permission, you had to in those days,” she said.

And on April 9, 1949, the couple were married at St Peter's Church, Yarmouth, a day Audrey will never forget.

She revealed: “It was a fiasco. My mother was ill and only allowed out of bed for three hours on the day and one of Jack's sisters, who worked as a nurse in Ipswich, had lost weight through being ill so her frock had to be altered the night before the wedding because it didn't fit. And, to top it off, Jack's suit only arrived half-an-hour before the wedding.”

The couple set up home in Stone Road, Cobholm, and suffered the devastating floods of 1953.

Audrey recalled: “Our neighbours banged on the wall and shouted 'the water is coming'. We all stood on our doorsteps watching the water coming up.”

Jack explained how the nightwatchman of a local factory had knocked on their door half-an-hour later and warned them of the impending disaster.

“He told us to leave the house and to get our belongings as high as possible,” said Jack.

The couple's home was flooded with about four feet of water and Jack and Audrey had to live with her mother on St Peter's Road in Yarmouth while their home was repaired.

After living in Cobholm for 20 years, the couple moved to their current home in Beccles Road, Bradwell.

They have two children, Robert and Catherine, and a granddaughter Louise.

Jack, a carpenter and joiner, spent 50 years refereeing football matches - from games in the Yarmouth and District League to the Football League where he kept order over top teams such as Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham.

“I really enjoyed it but you didn't take any stick in those days,” explained Jack. While he wasn't working or running around on the football pitch, Jack spent 20 years as a magistrate in Yarmouth and is now chairman of the Retired Magistrates group.

Audrey, a blood donor of 48 years, worked at Erie Resistor, Woolworths and Johnsons in the town and said she can't believe the couple have been married for 60 years.

“It seems to have gone so quick,” she said.

While Jack and Audrey enjoy laughing together they have been forced to overcome difficult times in recent years, after Audrey lost both legs below the knee due to diabetes and is now wheelchair bound.

“It was a difficult time for us,” said Jack, “but we always look at life as the glass is half full.”


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