My parents were married on the 20th December 1941 in Leeds, Yorkshire, England. As this was during the war and rationing was in force, celebrations were kept to a minimum and the family and wedding guests gave clothing coupons so the bride could have a bridal gown made.
Not so the preparations for the celebration of sixty years of marriage, which began back in January 2001 when my mother booked a room at the Cromwell Banqueting Suite in Cleethorpes for Saturday the 22nd December.
I knew that my parents were entitled to a congratulations card from Her Majesty the Queen for their achievement so, during the summer, I set about discovering how to organize this, putting my skills as a researcher to the test.
I emailed James Whitaker, the Royal correspondant for the Mirror newspaper. He replied straight away that my parents were indeed entitled to a card and that I should write1 to the Queen's secretary at Buckingham Palace and enclose a copy of their wedding certificate. This was easy to obtain as my mother keeps everything. I wrote the letter and sent it off, received a reply back with all the details printed out and asking me to check them, if they were correct then nothing else needed to be done. They were spot-on.
About a month before the "knees-up"2 I went shopping for an outfit and chose a matching ensemble of: gold sequinned sleeveless chevron top, a gold-coloured crotcheted cardigan with sequinned edging and light-gold coloured pants. The hunt was then on for the 'perfect shoes' which I found in the first shop I tried, gold strappy sandals with a huge (for me!) heel and I also found a gold handbag with sequins on.
A week before the anniversary, I went to Asda's to have a photocake made on behalf of my younger brother who couldn't get time off work. I found a photo of my parents taken on their honeymoon which was perfect and the result was incredible. I kept the cake at my home until the night before the anniversary when my brother came to collect it. Up till then I showed it to visitors who all agreed it was a fabulous gift for them.
The anniversary day
Luckily it was my son's last day of term so once he left I was free to spend the day with my parents. I headed for Tesco's where I bought a bottle of Moet and Chandon and a small bouquet of carnations. I arrived at their home about 10am and the postman had not yet arrived. They were pleased to see me and happily showed off their cards and gifts. Dad opened the champagne and we had two glasses each with some anniversary cake.
The postman rang the doorball at 11.09am. He had a recorded delivery from Buckingham Palace.
The card was a close-up of the Queen smiling at the camera. She was dressed in red and wearing a pearl necklace. Inside it was printed with a personal message of congratulations and then it was signed 'Elizabeth R'. My parents were overjoyed. I was so proud and honoured to share that moment with them.
About 15 minutes later, the photographer from the Grimsby Evening Telegraph called, took down all the details for the local rag, took a few photos and left. Then my fruit basket was delivered followed by my sister's bouquet complete with helium balloon. I had to leave at 2.30pm but I left behind two very happy people.
Setting off in our glad rags3 during a snowstorm were my daughter hfh, my son Andrew and myself. Thank goodness for taxis. There was an hour of disco before the meal at 8pm, then we all took turns at the karaoke in between sessions of dancing and taking photos with each others' cameras.
My sister and my daughter motioned to me a few times to hitch up my top, as my bra kept showing. When my older daughter also told me, I said to her husband
'I notice none of you men are telling me that my t*ts are hanging out'
which elicited guffaws of laughter.
My father made a speech, as did my daughter Helen. My son Allan sang a wonderful rendition of 'Seven Days' by Craig David on the karaoke, I didn't know he was so talented.
The time flew by and all too soon it was 11pm and time to go home. On leaving, everyone was requested to write something in the book which mum is going to fill with photos as a lasting memento. A fitting end to a fabulous party for a great achievement by a wonderful couple.
The anniversary couple, Frank and Violet Wolstencroft.
Their four children:
- Keith's wife Maureen
- Yvonne's partner Ian
- Robert's wife Rachel
- Andrew (all Ann's children)
- Jennifer (Keith's daughters)
- Lauren (Yvonne's children)
- Laura's husband Karl
- Allan's girlfriend Laura
- One great grandson, Liam who is Laura and Karl's son (my grandson)
- Next-door neighbours Keith and Dawn
- Friends Joe and Edie