Saturday, April 19, 2014
They claim they have never had an argument in six decades – but a hired car breaking down on their road trip honeymoon to Harwich and back nearly caused the one and only row in Ronald and Thelma Barnard’s 60-year marriage.
The Sprowston couple believe their ability to laugh at silly things has helped them to weather 60 years together, as has Mrs Barnard’s cunning tactic of sneakily planting ideas and then letting her husband think he came up with them himself.
Mrs Barnard, 80, said: “I suppose give and take is the main thing and we have always laughed about things, despite our ups and downs.”
Mr Barnard, 82, added: “But we have never had a row.”
“I might have moaned, grumbled and nagged and it annoys me but he don’t say nothing,” explains Mrs Barnard.
The couple both grew up in the Larkman area of Norwich and first met at Bowthorpe’s Henderson School for Boys and Gurney School for Girls.
“I first went with him when I was at school - 14 I was,” says Mrs Barnard. “But I told him I was too young to go serious so I never bothered to go out with him any more.”
Mr Barnard was then sent on national service to Malaya, but when he returned the couple met again at a Chapelfield dance and they have been together ever since.
Mrs Barnard said: “I always knew he was the one I would end up with.”
The date of April 17 was first mooted for the wedding, but Mr Barnard had his own reasons for suggesting April 19 instead, which was Easter Monday.
He said: “I used to race pigeons and always said I would never get married on a Saturday because that was when we raced.”
They were married by Reverend Lancaster at St Barnabus Church before heading off to Harwich for their honeymoon in a hired Morris Minor.
On the way back they had got as far as Ipswich when the fan belt went and Mr Barnard lifted the bonnet and put his head inside to have a look.
He said: “What happened is that she pressed the horn and I nearly had a fit and bumped my head.”
Mr Barnard worked for Jarrolds, starting out with the company in the wholesale side, but spending time in several departments, including gardening, which is a favourite hobby of his.
Mrs Barnard worked in the toy section of Jarrolds for 15 years, as well as cleaning at Northfields school and working in a sweet shop in Bridewell Alley.
The couple spent most of their married life living in The Avenues before moving to Lone Barn Road in Sprowston and they have three children - Robert, Andrew and Pamela - six grandchildren and one great grandchild.
Four years ago Mrs Barnard had a stroke and an aortic aneurysm, which Mr Barnard described as “a worry and a shock”. When his wife had complained of feeling unwell, Mr Barnard had called for help and a paramedic was with the couple when Mrs Barnard had the stroke.
Now recovered and in better health, the couple enjoy visiting the Seacroft Holiday Village in Hemsby, as well as playing cribbage at Thorpe St Andrew’s County Arts Club and bingo at the Gas Club in Roundtree Way.
The couple will be celebrating their Diamond Wedding anniversary with family today.
Mrs Barnard said: “I will say a woman should let him think that he’s done something. I always put the idea in his head and he makes out he’s the one that thought of it and I let him think that.
“We laugh at a lot of things. People probably think we are stupid because we laugh at silly things. We’re not miseries are we?”