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Couple mark 70 years together

PUBLISHED: 08:51 28 January 2009 | UPDATED: 14:58 07 July 2010

John and Jess Williams.

John and Jess Williams.

A refuge from the rain by a man seeking work in London was to lead to a romance that has spanned a remarkable seven decades.

John and Jess Williams, both 91, of Highfield Road, Dereham, will recall their rather rain-soaked first encounter when they celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary today.

A refuge from the rain by a man seeking work in London was to lead to a romance that has spanned a remarkable seven decades.

John and Jess Williams, both 91, of Highfield Road, Dereham, will recall their rather rain-soaked first encounter when they celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary today.

Young Jess, a 18-year-old teenager in 1936, had been into central London to see the funeral procession of King George V and when she returned to her grandmother's house where she lived, the man who was to become her life-long partner was sitting in a chair, busy drying himself after getting a soaking in the rain.

“John had come down to London to look for work with a shipping company and someone directed him to lodgings at my grandmother's house and because he was soaking wet she took pity on him and took him in,” recalled Mrs Williams.

The couple, who have a daughter, Lydia and son, Victor, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, have lived in Dereham for three years after moving from Heacham where they spent 25 years. They moved to Norfolk to be near their family when Mr Williams retired after working for the Oxford University Press for 38 years. During most of his working life the couple lived at Edmonton, North London.

Although they are both over 90, the couple still remain remarkably active, Mrs Williams even managing to do some gardening. She is also a fine needle worker and particularly excels at quilting.

Talking about their long and happy marriage, the couple felt that they were probably first attracted to each other because they had things in common. Mrs Williams's mother died when she was a two-year-old baby and she was raised by her grandmother. Her husband's mother also died in an accident when he was a child.

When asked for the secret of their long marriage, the couple agreed that they “see everything together”. “I won't argue with him”, quipped Mrs Williams.

Her husband added: “What's mine is hers and what's hers is mine”.

They say they know each other so well and often finding themselves sharing the same thoughts.

It is quite a week for wedding anniversaries in the Williams household. On the day of their own 70th anniversary, their grandson Mark and his wife Chantale celebrate their 8th wedding anniversary while tomorrowit is the turn of their son Victor and his wife Pat who will be marking their 37th anniversary.

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