Sunday, 24 March 2019

Couple celebrate 70th wedding anniversary at care home

Couple celebrate 70th wedding anniversary at care home

A COUPLE who began courting after a chance encounter at a railway station have celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.

Lionel and Moyra Randall, who live at the Cleeve Lodge care home in Elmhurst Road, Goring, were married at St Dunstan’s Church in Monks Risborough, near Aylesbury, on February 26, 1949, almost six years after they first met.

Mr Randall, 97, who was born and grew up just outside Luton, approached his future wife, née Drew, while waiting on the platform at Belmont station, near Harrow, on a Tuesday morning in May 1943.

They went on their first date, a boat trip along the River Thames at Richmond, the following Saturday.

He initially told her his name was Philip, which is his middle name, and she has called him this ever since.

Mrs Randall said: “We were waiting for this little steam train that used to take us to the main line and as soon as he spoke to me, that was that.

“It was definitely love at first sight on my part and I would hope it was the same for him because he approached me! When I found out his first name, I used to joke that he used a false name because he was planning to run away.”

At the time Mr Randall held a clerical position with the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, which was based at St Pancras station in London.

Mrs Randall, 94, from Willesden, worked in an administrative role with a local council.

Soon after the relationship started, she was conscripted into factory work at Cricklewood where she inspected aircraft components as part of the war effort.

Her husband was not called up to fight as his job was seen as vital in maintaining civilian life and he also had a back injury following surgery as a child.

After the war, the couple moved from Harrow to Guildford and Mr Randall retrained as a farmer before being employed by the Ministry of Agriculture to breed cattle through artificial insemination.

He later ran his own business and then pursued a career in the education department of Esher Borough Council, now Elmbridge, where his wife also worked. She was mostly involved in housing and helped to set up sheltered accommodation schemes for the elderly.

The couple, who have no children, retired in 1975 as Mrs Randall could no longer work due to multiple sclerosis. She as diagnosed in 1967 after showing symptoms for some years beforehand.

The couple moved to Cornwall for 10 years then relocated to Blewbury, where they had a number of friends.

Between them, they enjoyed a number of hobbies, including golf, arts and crafts, tennis, swimming and horse riding.

Mr Randall moved to Cleeve Lodge in 2016 as he was no longer able to live independently and his wife would visit him at least three times a week.

She moved in temporarily after developing a chest infection at Christmas 2017 and then decided she would stay permanently.

The couple, who received a congratulations card from the Queen, celebrated their anniversary with a party at the home on the day.

Staff decorated the premises with balloons and bunting and laid on a spread of party food. A small group of friends spent the afternoon with them. Mrs Randall wore an emerald necklace containing an 1842 guinea which her husband gave her on their 50th anniversary.

She said: “There’s no particular highlight from our marriage.

“I remember everything equally fondly and think it has all been lovely from the beginning, so I couldn’t choose just one or two things.

“We’re still together because we love each other, it’s as simple as that. I’ve never once thought what it might be like to be living any other way.

“It feels amazing to have reached this point but also a little strange because on the inside you feel like the same person from all those years ago. Only the outside has really changed.

“When we first met all those years ago, we could never have imagined we would be here today as we didn’t know anyone in their nineties and didn’t really think that far ahead.

“We’ve had a lot of lovely cards from friends and, of course, from the Queen, which was wonderful.

“It was a very busy day. I had the hairdresser round to tart up my hair before everyone arrived.”

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