Two of White Lodge Care Home's residents are celebrating 75 years of marriage.
Barchester White Lodge Care Home in Braydon near Royal Wootton Bassett have four resident couples, between them they have been married over 250 years.
One Couple, Ruth and Fred Stanford celebrated the remarkable milestone this week of 75 years of marriage.
On 14 June 1947, the couple married at the age of 21. The pair started courting aged 16, but soon after Fred joined the RAF and was away on active service in World War II.
They married post war in 1947, the same year as the Queen and Prince Phillip. They actually first met at St Luke’s Primary School in Guildford where they are photographed in the same class.
The couple have led a very interesting and varied life as Fred stayed in RAF until his retirement aged 65. Fred was the longest serving RAF officer to keep up his flying hours when he retired.
He flew Lancaster Bombers during the Second World War and piloted 37 types of aircraft during his service. That service in the RAF took the family to the Far East where the couple lived with their young family for many years.
The White Lodge team say they pulled out all the stops to celebrate what is a very rare anniversary. The activities team wanted to make the day personal to them, so arranged a number of surprises for the couple.
Master Air Crew Brain Kayll and Sargent Isla Cudlipp from RAF Brize Norton came along to meet the couple and had a surprise of their own presented them with a framed picture of the Lancaster Bomber.
Ruth was President of the Royal Wootton Bassett Women’s Institute and White Lodge were delighted to welcome current President of Royal Wootton Bassett WI, Shelia Rumming and member of the WI Beth Carrigan with whom Ruth had a chat. Fred also was a founder of the Royal Wootton Bassett Otters Swimming Club.
Royal Wootton Bassett Mayor, Pat Farrow also attended and to mark the couples work in the town over the years presented them with lapel pins, along with presenting Ruth with flowers. Pat spent the whole afternoon at White Lodge, chatting with residents and their families. White Lodge arranged for the residents to attend the celebration and invited families to join the event as well.
Ruth and Fred’s children Christine and Gordon attended, with their other daughter Jenny on video call from overseas.
They spoke fondly of their parents and amazing life, Christine said: “Mum is feisty with a lovely spirit and Dad was a great partygoer in his youth. They looked after us well. We had good fun as kids and travelled around the world because of Dad’s work. We lived in Singapore for a few years.
"They’ve really made the most of their retirement and went on amazing holidays sightseeing around Europe, they’ve had an adventurous life.”
Gordon remembered his father saying about the RAF: “If someone gave you the best toys in the world to play with and paid you to do it, of course you’d sign up.”
He added about their marriage: “Mum and Dad were always there for us, with financial or emotional support. They don’t think there’s a big secret to a happy marriage, just care and respect and regard."
Ruth was asked many times throughout the day about the secret to a long and happy marriage, she commented that it was because her husband went away a lot with the RAF. She went on to say “I have not got a clue! I never thought we would get to this, it’s just one of those things, it seems as though Fred has been around forever.”
White Lodge decorated the gardens with a wedding theme, put together a display with memories from their wedding day along with family events over the years including their Ruby Wedding party.
The home also made a cake which was officially cut and the hospitality team made a buffet. The couple were toasted with prosecco by everyone who attended and the celebrations continued with live entertainment from singer, Andy Yapp.
Ruth said: “This was a lovely day – even better than the wedding! The care home has done wonderfully well, I’m not sure we deserve it all, though I know it’s amazing to have been married for such a long time.”
Margaret and Lucy, the White Lodge activities team say they planned the day with military precision including requesting the card from the queen. They now have a collection of anniversary cards from the Queen and were invited to Buckingham Palace for their Golden Wedding Anniversary as were all couples married in 1947 to celebrate with the Queen and Prince Phillip.
White Lodge say they are very grateful to the VIPs for their time and to everyone who made the day such a special occasion.
A spokesperson from the home said: "Our varied life enrichment programme keeps residents active, and provides a daily choice of engaging physical, mental and spiritual activities tailored to residents’ interests and abilities."
White Lodge is run by Barchester Healthcare, one of the UK’s largest care providers, which says it is committed to delivering high-quality care across its care homes and hospitals. White Lodge provides nursing, residential and respite care.