‘Secret to a happy marriage is to marry a girl like Phyllis’

Fred and Phyllis Thomas, 75th aniversary, Westham SUS-160427-000355008
Fred and Phyllis Thomas, 75th aniversary, Westham SUS-160427-000355008

A Westham couple have celebrated 75 years of happy marriage.

Fred and Phyllis Thomas, of Montague Road, Westham, married on St George’s Day in 1941 at Old Town’s parish church, St Mary’s.

Their romance started when they were in their late teens. Fred told the Express how he met Phyllis, now 94.

He said: “I was put on duty directing traffic for one week, down outside the railway station in Eastbourne. On the first morning, I saw this slim and pretty girl ride past, sitting bolt upright on her pedal bicycle. The next morning I made sure I stopped the stream of traffic she was in and I stopped her everyday. However, she worked at Bobby’s, now Debenhams, and had to clock in at 9am each morning. If she was late she lost pay. My stopping her each morning made her late for work and by the end of the week, on the Saturday, she was furious. She had been getting more and more angry each day.”

A couple of months later, Fred discovered Phyllis worked at Bobby’s and waited outside the department store for her at the end of the day.

Their first date was at the Luxor Cinema. Fred said: “I bought her a box of Terry’s Old Gold chocolates and the rest is history.” The couple were together for three years before they tied the knot.

Fred was a policeman for 32 years, a Willingdon and Jevington parish councillor for four years, in the Air Training Corps for ten years and a member of the National Association of Retired Police Officers for 35 years.

Phyllis is a founding member of the a club for young mothers and babies, which still runs today. She is still an active member – attending meetings and discussing the club’s future – after setting it up 75 years ago.

The pair were thanked by the Queen for their dedication and invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace with many other hardworking volunteers.

The couple had three children, Bryan, Sandra and Pauline. They are now grandparents to four, Matthew, Damien, Greg and Amy-Louise. They also have three great-grandchildren, Aimee, Tilly and Toby.

Even after a relationship lasting nearly 78 years, Fred is still a romantic.

He said: “Every morning I wake-up and say, ‘good morning darling girl’.”

When asked the secret to a long and happy marriage he said: “Quite simply, the secret is to marry a girl like Phyllis.”

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