Being tolerant is secret of long, happy marriage

TOLERANCE is what makes a lasting marriage, say Jean and Jeff Lawrence of Northam – and after 70 years together, they should know! The couple, who celebrate their platinum anniversary next Tuesday, say their secret is to learn to overlook faults, enjoy th

TOLERANCE is what makes a lasting marriage, say Jean and Jeff Lawrence of Northam - and after 70 years together, they should know!

The couple, who celebrate their platinum anniversary next Tuesday, say their secret is to learn to overlook faults, enjoy the good parts and never let the sun go down on any argument.

Jean, 90, was born at East-the-Water, Bideford, and Jeffrey, 92, in Devonport.

By strange coincidence both their families at one time lived in the same street in Plymouth.


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Jeff's parents moved up to North Devon when his father left the Plymouth dockyard to work at the former Hansen's Shipyard in Bideford.

Jean's parents moved to Bideford before she was born, when her father gained promotion in his Post Office job.

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They met in school as youngsters and formed their first friendship when Jean and her friends used to go to Bideford Parish Church to make faces at the choirboys, of whom Jeff was one. She was just 12 or 13 at the time.

The couple were married at St Mary's Bideford, in 1940. Their wedding plans were brought forward and carried out under special licence as Jeffrey was serving in the Royal Marines and had to join HMS Edinburgh on wartime duties in the Atlantic. He also later served in the Mediterranean.

"I didn't know where I would be going, or when I would be back," he said.

Jeff spent 22 years in the Royal Marines, coming out as a Colour Sergeant. As a trained printer, working in a Bideford printing business before and after his service, he spent much of his time with the Commander in Chief's staff and carried out printing tasks on board ship.

For two periods, he served directly under Earl Louis Mountbatten, including in Malta, where he and Jean lived for three years.

The relationship which has spanned the decades will be celebrated with a party at Appledore Football Club on Friday night and this will be followed by an "open house" for friends and family next Tuesday.

The couple have three children, Jeffrey, David and Michele, all living locally and the family tree continues with grandchildren, great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.

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