Residents share success and memories of over 300 years of marriageLove was in the air for residents and colleagues at HC-One care homes in Britain in the run up to Valentine’s Day, with residents reflecting on a combined total of over 300 years of marriage to share their secrets to a happy union. 

At Sandon House Care Home in Tameside, Greater Manchester, residents John and Beryl Clarke were feeling the love as they took the opportunity to reminisce on their marriage and how they met. John and Beryl first met at the young age of six years old at Sunday school. The couple were married on the 5th October 1963 at the Salvation Army in Ashton-Under-Lyne and celebrated their 60 year wedding anniversary last year. 

Beryl strongly remembers there being scaffolding up around the building on their wedding day which was decorated with a beautiful display of flowers for the special day. John served his National Service at the age of 19 years old for two years as a Paratrooper and Beryl was a Ward Clerk at the hospital as well as volunteering for 15 years at Willow Wood Hospice. The couple went on to have a son and they have two granddaughters. 

When asked what their secret to a happy marriage was, they both said: 

“Being patient and learning to tolerate each other!”

At The Harefield in Uxbridge, Middlesex, resident Gillian Martin, 87 years old and her husband, Derek Martin, 87 years old, have been married for 61 years and have been sharing fond memories of how they first met and fell in love. Gillian is originally from Edenbridge in Kent and used to work as an accountant, and Derek used to work as an engineer in the auto industry. Gillian and Derek first met on the 12th September 1960 at a dance at the Hammersmith Palace. Derek remembers initially spotting Gillian at the beginning on the night but soon lost her in the crowd. Sometime later, he was able to find her and ask her to dance. Gillian had already turned down two offers to dance that night, but she happily accepted Derek’s offer to dance. Derek bought Gillian a drink and offered to drive her home, by coincidence, it turned out that they both lived in Shepherd’s Bush, only five roads away from each other. 

Derek visits Gillian often and plays an active role in the home’s life. Both Gillian and Derek enjoy watching the entertainers who visit The Harefield perform as well as attending different trips outside of the care home including the local park, Rickmansworth Aquadrome and even a Daytime Disco at their local Compass Theatre in Ickenham. 

When asked about what their secret to a happy marriage was, Derek Martin commented: 

“My secret to a long-lasting marriage is compatibility. Gillian and I have the same interests as each other including theatre, music and dancing. We’ve been married for 61 years so it's obviously worked!”

At Newlands Care Home in Stockport, Cheshire, residents Brian Richardson, 88 years old, and Norma Richardson, 85 years old, are a married couple that both live at the home together who celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary in September 2023. The couple first met at the Westminster Bank in Longsight, Manchester, where Norma was working when Brian joined the staff after completing his National Service. Both Brian and Norma stayed with Norma’s parents in Higher Openshaw for a short time after they were wed before spending their married life in Stockport. The couple have two children, a daughter called Dawn and a son called Paul.

When asked what the key was to a happy marriage, both Brian and Norma Richardson, residents at Newlands Care Home, said:

“Doing things together and individually has been important throughout our marriage.”

At County Homes Care Home in Birkenhead, Wirral, a married couple who both live at the home and who have been married for 62 years, Jean Spooner who is 84 years of age and Jeffrey Spooner who is 83 years of age shared their secrets to a happy marriage. Jean and Jeffrey Spooner were residing on the Wirral before Jean moved into County Homes in February 2022 and Jeff moved into the care home in September 2023. 
Jean and Jeff first met at a pub in Swansea. Jeff went to Jean’s parents’ house to ask for permission to court her as he was soon going away to work at sea. Jean and Jeff married in Swansea with Jean’s sister as her bridesmaid and Jeff’s brother as best man. Their wedding reception was held at Castle Bay Hotel, followed by an overnight stay in London before having their honeymoon in Austria skiing. The couple have two children and four grandchildren, two boys and two girls. 
When asked for advice on romance and his secret to a happy marriage, resident Jeff Spooner commented: 
“Never stop loving each other and try to keep the fire lit, support each other always.”

At Kirkwood Court Care Home in Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, residents Ron Heads who is 94 years old and Irene Heads who is 93 years old, have been married for over 70 years and are still very much in love. Both Ron and Irene moved into Kirkwood Court Care Home in August 2022. Ron and Irene met at one of their local dances when they were teenagers. They were dancing the Bradford Barn dance and Ron said once he started dancing and had a hold of Irene, he never wanted to let her go. The couple have three children - two daughters and one son who have all had children of their own. Ron loves singing to Irene, and they enjoy reminiscing about what a great life they have had together and how lucky they are to have each other.

When asked about what their secret to a happy marriage was, resident Ron Head said: 

“Irene is always right, but I knew that before we were even married. Irene has always been my girl. For a long loving marriage, you have to remember to always love each other through the good times but most importantly through the bad times. You have to try and be the best person you can be for one another.”