Gorelston couple’s dance hall encounter which led to romance

THEY first caught each other’s eye in a Gorleston dance hall more than 50 years ago.

And now Jean and Derek Houghton are celebrating their golden wedding anniversary.

Their relationship sparked into life in 1958 when Derek asked Jean to dance at the Floral Hall in Gorleston – now the Ocean Room.

It was an encounter which would lead to marriage, with the pair exchanging vows at St Nicholas’ Parish Church, Great Yarmouth, on the June 22, 1961.

“I first met Derek when he came over and asked me to dance.


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“But the following week we managed to meet again,” Jean said.

“Back then, we used to ballroom dance to a live band, whilst other people jived in the centre.

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“But we also went to the pictures at the Regent Theatre and Regal Cinema to see things like Elvis Presley.

“We used to dance and sing to the show songs on the way home.”

Jean was working for Erie Resistor, a Yarmouth electronics production company, and later Birdseye Foods, during the early years of their relationship.

Meanwhile, Derek was employed as an office boy for Yarmouth legal firm Chamberlin Talbot and Bracey, where he later became a solicitor and partner, before retiring in 1996.

Derek said: “I remember asking Jean to marry me while we were in the hallway of her mother’s house.

“I did not get down on one knee, but I made sure I did it in a romantic way.”

Since then, the couple have gone on to have two sons, Paul and Ian, and four grandchildren James, Alex, Miles and Darcey.

Describing their marriage, Derek feels they have always been a couple involved with the people and community around them.

“I always consider ourselves a married couple which ‘did’ things together,” he said.

“Even now we are retired, we are still as busy as we were when we were working.”

Derek is a member of the Great Yarmouth Masonic Lodge United Friends, and is chairman of the governors of Lynn Grove High School.

He will take on the presidential role of Great Yarmouth Rotary Club for the second time in 2012.

Meanwhile, Jean is member of Yarmouth Inner Wheel.

The couple, of Lowestoft Road, Gorleston, will celebrate their golden wedding anniversary with a meal at the Burlington Palm Hotel accompanied by family and friends travelling from Eastbourne, Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and New Zealand.

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