Golden day for a kindhearted Yarmouth couple

FOR years, they supported the lives of vulnerable young people in Great Yarmouth.

And as they raised thousands of pounds, they attracted the stars from the seafront who flocked to help their charity causes.

But now Stanley, 76, and Annmaree Fletcher, 73, are in the spotlight for a different reason, as they get ready to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary.

The couple first met on Wellington Pier in 1958, when Annmaree was living in Yarmouth.

They would see each other at the weekends when Stan travelled from Nottingham to Norfolk to stay with friends in the Yarmouth guesthouses.

But it was not long before their relationship was sealed by marriage and they exchanged vows at St Nicholas Church on September 16 1961.

They held their wedding reception at the Blue Anchor Hotel, costing them �54.18, while Annmaree’s dress cost her a mere �15.

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After the wedding, Stan moved to Norfolk to begin his life-long career in the brewery industry.

He began by joining Lacons Brewery, where he became manager, and saw the business taken over by Whitbreads and Adnams.

In 1963, the couple bought the Mariners pub on Howard Street and managed it for six years, before taking over the The Lion on Euston Road.

It was during this time that they started helping the members of the Yarmouth community who needed it most.

Annmaree’s dad, Leslie Houghton, used to play the organ and provide entertainment at the Lion, while her mum, Catherine, played a pivotal role in their charity work.

“The first charity fundraising we did was to help a girl called Donna Baldwin who was born without a hand,” Annmaree said.

“We managed to collect enough money to buy her a false hand, but then it was revealed she could receive the help she needed from the NHS.

“So we put the money in a special account, and when she was 21 we presented her with a cheque for �10,000.”

As well as collecting valuable funds for needy people, the couple also entertained a host of celebrities.

Paul Daniels, Michael Barrymore, Little and Large, Les Dennis, Frank Carson and The Krankies all visited the pub to help with the fundraising effort, which included draping a blanket over bottles filled with money and smashing them with a hammer.

Meanwhile, the couple’s children also got in on the act by dressing up as the Wombles and inviting people to donate money to have their picture taken with them.

In the early 1990s, they continued their good causes by raising �5,000 for the James Paget Breast Cancer Unit and a further �730 for the Cancer Research Trust. Speaking about their marriage, Annmaree said people had told them they would never stay together,

“Ann Giles, who ran the Barking Smack pub on the seafront, the place where we pulled our first pint, told us it would never last because I was too flighty and Stan was too quiet. But we proved her wrong.”

The couple retired after nearly 60 years in the business, taking up residence only doors away from the Lion and remaining regulars.

They have two children, Drew and Gaynor, four granddaughters and one grandson.

As well dedicating their free time to helping others, the couple also have a love of bowls and going on cruises.

They plan to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary on September 17 with a party at the Furzedown Hotel and have invited more than 100 people to attend.

And they are asking guests to donate to Caister Lifeboat instead of buying them a present.