Happy days as couples share some diamond memories

June 26 2018
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JEAN and Brian Flynn have celebrated 60 years of marriage after meeting as pen pals in 1955.

Brian was born in Cheltenham in 1933 and Jean was born in Bristol in 1937. Jean grew up in Filton and through St Andrew’s Methodist Church, she started writing to Brian who was serving his national service with the Gloucestershire Regiment in Kenya. Jean and Brian wrote to each other for 18 months before Brian travelled from Cheltenham to Filton to visit her at her parents’ house for the first time, and love blossomed.

After a nine-month courtship, Brian told Jean that they should go and choose an engagement ring. When the day of the proposal arrived, things didn’t entirely go to plan as Brian’s train arrived at Stapleton Road station instead of Temple Meads, leaving Jean thinking that she had been stood up. As there was no way for them to contact each other in those days, Jean went home and was comforted by her mum, but after getting a bus from the centre of town to Filton, Brian finally arrived and popped the question.

The couple decided they would settle in Bristol, with Brian working for a small builder in Bedminster and Jean working at the Co-op’s offices. They got married in 1958 at St Peter’s Church in Filton, and moved to a garden flat in Burlington Road in Redland. 

For their honeymoon, the newlyweds went to Torquay for a week, which Jean says was the place to go in those days. They stayed at The Devonshire Hotel, where they met John and Shirley and Pat and Vic, two couples from London who were also on honeymoon. The couples swapped addresses and agreed to stay in touch.

Jean and Brian had two daughters, Caroline and Jacqueline, who were born in 1964 and 1965, and the family moved to Blackhorse Road in Mangotsfield. At the same time, John and Shirley also had two daughters, and they decided to go and live in America where John set up his own company. Over the years the couples used to write each and send Christmas cards, and John and Shirley also travelled back to visit Jean and Brian on several occasions.

Jean and Brian lived in Mangotsfield for 43 years, where their daughters attended Barley Close and Downend schools. Brian started doing exhibition work for Rolls Royce, and Jean had a varied career as a training manager for Tupperware (the first in Bristol and the second in the whole country), the first lady car salesman for Cathedral Cars on Hotwells Road, and she was also the governor of a beauty therapy college.

Brian and Jean moved to their house in Emersons Green in 2004 and all three couples celebrated their 50th wedding anniversaries together in Cheltenham in 2008. Unfortunately, Brian was forced to retire after a heart attack at age 60 and was diagnosed with dementia in 2012, and Vic died in 2013.

Fast forward to today and in a joint diamond anniversary celebration, John and Shirley travelled from America to have lunch at Jean and Brian’s house.

Speaking about their 60 years of marriage, Jean told the Voice: “On our actual anniversary we went to the Priory Hotel in Bath for dinner with our daughters and our grandsons. In the evening, we had 24 friends and colleagues over to the house We also had a card from the Queen arrive on the day,.  

“We’ve been very fortunate to be married for as long as we have. We’ve always supported our family and they’ve always supported us. We don’t have rows, if you want to have an argument you just go and talk to yourself for a while! We’ve also had a very sociable life, and we’re very privileged to have good friends and be part of a very happy family.”