Harrogate couple celebrate 80th wedding anniversary after meeting before Second World War

An incredible Harrogate couple who must be one of the UK’s longest-married couples has celebrated their 80th wedding anniversary having first met each other in the late 1930s..

Tuesday, 19th January 2021, 4:53 pm
Happy 80th wedding anniversary - Harrogate's Ron and Beryl Golightly first met in the late 1930s.

An incredible Harrogate couple who must be one of the UK’s longest-married couples has celebrated their 80th wedding anniversary having first met each other in the late 1930s..

When Ron and Beryl Golightly, who live in Starbeck, Harrogate, met in the late 1930s, Britain was on the verge of war, King George VI was on the throne and Neville Chamberlain was Prime Minister of the country.

Beryl, who was 14 when she first met Ron, then 16, was attracted to his ‘shock of black curly hair and cheeky smile’.

Following their courtship, the couple later married at St Andrew’s Church in Starbeck on 8th January 1941 – but the wedding almost didn’t happen.

Ron was forced to apply for a special marriage licence as his leave from the army was cancelled twice due to the Second World War and on their wedding day they were left with no best man, so had to grab a passer-by from the street to step in! Luckily this happened to be one of Ron’s friends.

There was no photographer on hand to capture Ron and Beryl’s special day before they set off on a honeymoon in Bishop Auckland.

Ron, who celebrated his 100th birthday last year, saw active service as a member of the Grenadier Guards Armoured Division before settling back in Harrogate with Beryl at the end of the war.

With two young daughters, born in 1942 and 1945, Ron began working as an HGV driver. A keen Harrogate Town fan, he would often be in the crowd at their Wetherby Road ground on match days.

Beryl, now 98, worked as a shop assistant in Harrogate, and was an active member of St John Ambulance.

She was the first person in Harrogate to teach first aid in schools, a role which she continued for 15 years and was presented with a St John Ambulance award for saving a woman’s life.

As well as their two grown-up daughters, Mr and Mrs Golightly have six grandchildren, 10 great grandchildren and one great great grandson.

Plans for their 80th wedding anniversary party have had to be put on hold due to the pandemic – just like Ron’s 100th birthday celebrations last March.

Instead of a family gathering, friends and neighbours stood in the street and sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to him.

Ron and Beryl are very proud of their Oak Wedding Anniversary card from the Queen – the fourth card the couple has received from the Royal household after being sent cards for their 70th and 75th anniversaries and Ron’s 100th birthday.

They hold an extra special meaning for Ron who, as a member of the Grenadier Guards, stood on sentry duty outside Buckingham Palace when the Queen and her younger sister were children.

Ron and Beryl received a couple of special oak gifts for their 80th anniversary – including an oak heart crafted by one of their son-in-laws and a wooden bowl with a ha’penny bit dating from 1941.

So what is the secret to a long and happy marriage – Ron and Beryl are quick to reply.

“Definitely give and take. We fell in love very young and are still in love in our old age,” said Beryl.

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