A last minute day trip to Blackpool resulted in a lifelong romance for a couple who are celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary.
Ken and Thelma Massey, from Wrexham, met on that fateful trip which Ken only went on because there were spare seats on the bus to the seaside resort.
The couple celebrated their 60th anniversary at Pendine Park’s Highfield care home in Summerhill where Thelma now lives.
Coincidentally, before her retirement Thelma – affectionately known as Millie – worked as a care practitioner at Pendine’s Gwern Alyn care home across town.
Ken, 83, said: “At the time we met Thelma was working at Marks and Spencer which organised the bus trip to Blackpool but there were not enough people to fill the bus. The sister of a mate of mine was one of the passengers and through her we ended up being offered the chance to fill the spare seats.
“So off we went to Blackpool. I didn’t know Thelma until that day but we got chatting on the return journey and we just clicked. That was that – the start of our romance.”
The couple courted for about four years before their joyous winter wedding on March 10.
Their love has lasted through thick and thin including living in a freezing caravan when they were first married. More recently even though they now have to live apart after Thelma suffered serious illness and became wheelchair bound, their bond is as strong as ever.
Ken, who still lives at the Garden Village home where they raised their family of three boys, said: “We moved there because we needed a larger house when our third son, David, was on the way. Before that we lived in Smithfield, but when we were first married we lived in a caravan in Llay. The first winter we were there was the most freezing I’ve ever known, so cold that even the Calor gas heater froze up. But we stuck it out and we’re stronger for it.”
Son David is now aged 46 and married to Helen. The couple’s other two sons are Paul, 56, married to Sue and Steve, 54, married to Nia.
Ken and Thelma are also proud to have four grandchildren – Dan, 26, Faith, 16, Jacob, 16, and Ioan, eight.
They all still live near each other in Garden Village area where Ken established a successful career as a self-employed joiner. Ken has retired but the business, K Massey Joinery, still thrives, having now been taken over by son Steve.
To mark their parents’ sparkling diamond wedding anniversary the boys organised a celebration cake and flowers.
Happy smiles were also the order of the day as they pre-arranged a mini-film in which other family members and long-time friends expressed their good wishes and told of happy memories with the couple.
Paul, a warehouse worker in Wrexham, said: “We showed it to mum on the day and it was hugely emotional for us all because she hadn’t been able to see some of her friends for so long. It was a great way for them all to tell her how much they love her and have been thinking of her and dad.”
Thelma is well known in the Wrexham community after her many years working as a popular assistant at the Garden Village chemist. Son Steve has followed in her career footsteps as he now works in the pharmacy at Wrexham Maelor hospital, helping distribute medicines to the various wards.
Special arrangements were made for Ken and sons to visit Thelma on the day and fellow residents joined in the celebrations which included a big figure 60 lit up in spotlights and a decorative tree on which heart-shaped messages of congratulations were hanged on branches. Photos of the special occasion were posted on Pendine Park’s Facebook page so friends who could not visit in person could share in the couple’s happy day.
Ken said: “All the staff at Highfield have been wonderful with us, and we know Thelma is in the most comfortable place here, second to her family home.
“She’s still the boss, lets me know what to do, what I’m doing right and where I’m going wrong.”
“I know she is in the right place here and getting the the best care possible, and they were excellent with us on the day of our anniversary.”
Care practitioner Sophie Smith said: “A diamond anniversary is a landmark occasion which many couples do not get to reach so we wanted to do our very best to ensure the day was extra special for Thelma, Ken and their family. It has been a privilege for us all here to share in the celebrations with them.”
Ken said: “It is amazing to think we have spent more than 60 years together when it only seems like minutes ago that we were first meeting on up on that wonderful day trip to Blackpool. All in all, it’s been a fantastic journey!”
Mario Kreft added: “I would like to add my heartfelt congratulations to Thelma and Ken on reaching this momentous milestone.
“Thelma was a much-loved and much-valued member of the Pendine family when she worked at Gwern Alyn in the early days of the organisation
“Thelma was the epitome of our ethos because she was passionate about caring for others, displaying a warm kindness and compassion at all times.
“We feel privileged and honoured to have the opportunity to return the favour now and we hope that she will be able to spend as much time as possible with Ken as they continue their remarkable love story.”