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Surprise letter led to golden marriage

PUBLISHED: 15:55 04 June 2009 | UPDATED: 14:06 03 July 2010

Golden couple: Geoffrey and Valerie Leech.

Golden couple: Geoffrey and Valerie Leech.

WHEN a young Valerie Empson opened a surprise envelope she found a marriage proposal from her Merchant Navy boyfriend.

Shy Geoffrey Leech could not pluck up the courage to pop the question in person, so he decided to put his request in writing while he was away from home.

Wedding day: The couple on their big day in 1959.

WHEN a young Valerie Empson opened a surprise envelope she found a marriage proposal from her Merchant Navy boyfriend.

Shy Geoffrey Leech could not pluck up the courage to pop the question in person, so he decided to put his request in writing while he was away from home.

That was more than 50 years ago, and he need not have worried - his girlfriend said yes, and tomorrow the couple celebrate their golden wedding anniversary.

Mrs Leech said: “He was ever so shy when he was younger.

“He just wrote one day and said:'Would you get engaged to me?'

“He probably wrote the letter because he could not ask me in person, but we used to go out together whenever he came home from the Merchant Navy.”

The couple, now both 70, live in Beach Road, Winterton. They first became friends while pupils at the village school but did not start dating until they were 18.

During their courtship they often took the bus to Great Yarmouth to go to the cinema or theatre to see shows by the top entertainers of the day, including Cilla Black.

They were married at Winterton Church on June 6, 1959 in front of more than 80 relatives and friends.

Many of those will be returning to help the couple celebrate their milestone anniversary with a meal at the Hermanus holiday centre tomorrow.

Mrs Leech worked at Arnolds store in Yarmouth and for Norfolk County Council.

Her husband became a firefighter at Acle after leaving the Merchant Navy. He retired in 1993.

The couple have two children, Andrew and Karen, and six grandchildren.

Mrs Leech said: “We have had a good life together, even if we do have the occasional argument.

“I would not say any marriage is perfect.”

Geoffrey added: “I would say the secret to a long marriage is give and take.

“We just get on together so well.”

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