JOHN and Elsie Gooding of Barnfield Close, Crediton, celebrated their Diamond Wedding Anniversary on July 27, but held a party for family and friends on Sunday, July 23, at the Red Lion Inn, Shobrooke.
John, who is almost 83, was born in Crediton and went to Hayward’s School. Elsie, who is just 87, was born at Long Barn, but moved to Newton St Cyres as a toddler, and attended Newton St Cyres School.
When John left school he first worked for a local bakery before going into the Army for two years’ National Service, where he served in the Catering Corps, and in the Suez for 19 months.
When he returned to Crediton he worked at Bristows for five years. He worked on the building when the Milk Factory in East Street was being built, and finally to Fyffes in Exeter for 38 years before retirement. Elsie worked at Waltons in Exeter, and then for Huttons, which was next door.
Then as it was quite a long way to travel to Exeter in those days she got a job in Bristows Sweet Factory and met John, who had started there just two weeks before.
John said it was “love at first sight” for him, and it wasn’t long before Elsie agreed to go out with him.
John, a renowned singer, was in the Crediton Parish Church Choir from 1944 to 1952, before joining the Army.
Elsie went to the High Street Chapel where they were later married. John’s best man was Gilbert Hookway, and one of the bridesmaids was Maureen Hookway, both now deceased, as is Joyce Callard.
Elsie’s sister, Bessie Hayman, and Jane Saunders were the other two bridesmaids.
They held their reception at the old Churchworkers’ Institute (now the Dental clinic) and travelled to Weston-super-Mare for their honeymoon.
The couple recall that they had to travel in the guards van and sit on their suitcases, as the trains were on a “go slow”, and the buses were on strike, but they remember that the weather was beautiful, different to their wedding day, when it poured with rain!
However, their photographer was the late Bertram Authurs, still managed to get some lovely pictures which were on show at their party at the Red Lion.
Later in their marriage, Elsie worked in the old Shelley School kitchens for 11 years.
The couple have two sons, Stephen and David, daughters-in-law Becky and Caroline, and five grandchildren - Nicky, Andrew, Joshua, Lucy and Robert, and one great grandson, Freddie, who is nearly two.
John and Elsie have been very connected with first the High Street Chapel, until it closed and since then, the Congregational Church.
John is well-known as a local Lay Preacher and singer.
At the High Street Chapel, they were both Sunday School teachers for 20 years and now at the Congregational Church they help with the Special Needs group.
Elsie also used to help with the coffees, but after she broke her arm, she can no longer do this.
The couple say they have enjoyed a very happy marriage, they always believed in prayer, and have been blessed with a wonderful family.