Pat and Derek Knight of Rushden have celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary.
Rushden Town Council Mayor, Cllr Melanie Coleman surprised the anniversary couple at their home to congratulate them on reaching this fantastic milestone.
Pat, 86 and Derek, 88, have lived most of their married life in Norfolk, moved to Rushden in 2019 to be closer to their daughter and several of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
The couple had a bit of a turbulent start to the beginning of their relationship as they were in fact cousins, they did not grow up together as children and met as adults at Derek’s father’s funeral, but some family members had objections and so they agreed to separate and wait three years until Pat was 21 and could marry without permission.
They did not see each other or have any contact for more than 18 months, but both missed each other terribly.
Finally, it was Pat’s sister who contacted Derek and said they needed to be together, as apart they were both so unhappy.
Julie, the couple’s daughter, said: ” I never tire of hearing what happened next – my Mum was a qualified hairdresser and looked out of the window one evening as they were closing up.
“She realised the man standing in the doorway opposite was my dad. She went over to him; he took her hand and they walked down by the canal. Almost the first words he said to her, after over 18 months apart, were, ‘so, are you going to marry me?’ to which she didn’t hesitate to say ‘yes’.”
It’s all history from there as on the 14th of July 1956, Pat and Derek were married at St Mary’s Church, Chessington in Surrey.
As years went on the couple reconciled with Pat’s parents who then in their later years, moved to Nolfolk to be closer to their children and grandchildren.
The couple went on to have two children, Julie who was born in 1958 and and Kevin, born in 1961.
In 2018, Kevin sadly passed away, which was understandably devastating for the entire family. The mayor spotted a little tribute to Kevin in the couple’s garden, his old boots filled with flowers on display by the pond.
Pat and Derek worked together and ran their successful business for nearly 30 years, before retiring in 1997 and making more time to enjoy hobbies such as fundraising committees, craft shows, Derek playing in a local brass band in Norfolk well into his 70’s and so much more.
The couple told the Mayor they very much enjoy living in Rushden, and despite of lockdown, they have still tried to make the most of their new town by visiting a number of places in the local area and hope to get involved in local groups once the restrictions are lifted.
Although Pat and Derek are surrounded by family, two of their grandchildren and five great grandchildren live all the way up in Hull, but the couple explained to the Mayor that there have been some lovely video calls and they are looking forward to arranging a visit asap.
When the Mayor asked them what they thought the secret to a long and happy marriage was, Pat replied, “we were friends first and still are.”