Couple married for 69 years star at wedding fayre
THEY fell in love the moment they saw each other – and soon they’ll be marking 69 years of married life.
Graham and Annette Chapman met in South Africa when he was visiting with the Merchant Navy and she was working as a nurse. They married in September 1949, two years after the Queen and Prince Philip.
The couple, from St Peter’s Church, Curdridge, will cut the official wedding cake at an event this month to celebrate love and marriage – and to mark the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
The Royal Wedding Fayre happens at the church from 12noon until 4pm on June 9, and will include displays of vintage wedding dresses, hats, jewellery and gifts, as well as church bells ringing, live music and a glass of bubbly. It’s designed to promote the idea of getting married in church and will include displays of wedding fashions and photos of couples who were married at St Peter’s.
Graham, who is 95, and Annette, who is 94, will be among several couples renewing their wedding vows on the day.
“I had a friend in Durban in South Africa, who I met when I got into port,” said Graham. “He asked if his girlfriend could bring her friend, and it turned out to be this lovely girl. I’ve always said that I fell in love with her there and then, and Annette says the same about me!
“She then came to train as a midwife in Guildford and Rickmansworth, and we eventually got engaged. She had to return to South Africa, and on my next trip, I sent her a cable while I was at sea asking if she wanted to get married when I arrived!”
The couple then moved to London, where Graham worked as a manager at London Docks, then came to Curdridge 54 years ago. They have two children, four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, some of whom are in South Africa and Australia. They’ve been involved with St Peter’s Church for much of that time.
“I think the secret of a good marriage is to love each other, and we do still love each other,” said Graham. “We have had disagreements, but never a flaming row. You do have to compromise to make it work. We’re looking forward to being involved in this special church fete.”
And Anna Clayton, who is organising the event, said: “Love is definitely in the air, with Harry and Meghan getting married. You can raise a glass to the newly-weds at our event, with locally-brewed beer, Pimms and Prosecco. It will start with church bells ringing, and there will be live music all afternoon.
“There will be a chance for anyone to renew their wedding vows in a beautifully-decorated church – you don’t have to have been married in St Peter’s to do this – and to have a slice of wedding cake afterwards. Consider yourself invited to this special occasion!”