A chance meeting at a dance brought Peter and Angela Skinner together more 60 years ago.
Angela nearly turned him down, too, but his persistence paid off and now they are celebrating their diamond wedding.
Peter, 86, and Angela, 80, of Hawthorn Road, Bognor Regis, have shared a happy life together and plan to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary at a party at The Aldwick Hotel.
Angela said: “We have had our ups and downs, everybody does, but it is our health that has put a dampner on a lot of things for us now.”
For one thing, they are no longer able to travel like they used to but share so many memories of their trips abroad.
Peter said: “We had a choice and chose to travel. We have loved travelling long haul and always stopped on the way.
“I did my National Service in Singapore and Malaya from 1952 to 1954, so we have been back a few times to see it.”
The couple love their time together but also appreciate doing their own things.
Peter said: “We pursue our own interests. I volunteer at Tangmere Military Aviation Museum and belong to four stamp clubs.”
Angela added: “I just love the garden. I love doing the pots and things.”
They met at the Elmer Hotel at a Southdown Christmas dance in 1954, just after Peter left the RAF. Angela worked for the bus company as a telephonist and clerk, and Peter’s father was chief clerk at the Bognor garage.
She said: “I didn’t even know he had an older son and he had just been demobbed.”
The couple were engaged in 1955 and married at St Mary Magdalene Church in South Bersted on October 12, 1957.
Peter worked for British Gas, mainly on the marketing side, and retired in 1994 after 48 years’ service.
In 1960, he bought their current home, a house that his grandmother had rented. In fact, his great-grandparents first moved in there in the 1880s and had a laundry out the back.
The couple moved in with their two girls, Martine and Julie, and Peter set about extending it to suit their family life.
Angela said: “The doctor said we weren’t to have any children but we didn’t want a childless marriage. He agreed but said I had to have them quickly. I just wanted children. They are lovely girls.”
She had rheumatic fever as a child and it affected her heart. In 1963, at the age of 28, she was one of the first to have a pioneering valve operation at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London.
It was her health that brought her to Bognor, in fact. Angela said her family came down from Greenford, Middlesex, when she was 13 on doctor’s advice, because of the damp.
Peter was born in Kensington and moved to the south coast with his family when his mum ‘got fed up of being bombed’ in the war.
In many ways, they feel they were destined to meet.