Ferring couple who met on a blind date celebrate diamond wedding

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​​A couple who met on a blind date have received congratulations from the King and Queen after celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary.

Bob and Gloria Smith, of Foamcourt Waye, Ferring, were delighted to receive a card from Buckingham Palace among many other cards from family and friends.

Gloria explained how they met: "My friend Anna was going dancing with her boyfriend. He was going to bring a friend and he needed a partner. We met as a foursome to go dancing and we got on well, so it went from there."

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Bob, who was about 24 when they met, had not long come out of the Air Force. He said it was exciting being in the RAF at the time but when he was offered the opportunity to stay on, he declined. He did not want to commit to the six years they wanted – and Gloria said if he had stayed in, they would probably never have met.

Bob and Gloria Smith celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary. Picture: Elaine Hammond / Sussex WorldBob and Gloria Smith celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary. Picture: Elaine Hammond / Sussex World
Bob and Gloria Smith celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary. Picture: Elaine Hammond / Sussex World

Their second date was an outing to Littlehampton, where Anna's mum lived, again as a foursome.

Bob was brought up in Purley and Gloria in Sydenham Hill. Bob was sporty, being a champion at the tennis club in Blackheath for two years in a row and an excellent runner.

The couple were married at the registry office in Catford on August 31, 1963, and had their honeymoon on the Isle of Wight.

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They set up home in Coulsdon and brought up three children there, Derek, Diane and Julia. The couple lived in the same house from 1963 until they moved to Ferring 18 years ago.

They found the village by chance, having got chatting to a couple in a pub in Rusper. They started visiting Ferring regularly and eventually moved down.

Gloria was 18 when they met and worked in banking. She gave up her banking job after they were married because of the unpredictable hours. Instead she took a job with more regular hours at a gas company in Croydon.

She explained: "In those days, you had to work until you finished at the bank and it could be nine or ten o'clock at night, working in London."

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Bob's first job was in the drawing office at the local council and after leaving the Air Force, he went back to architecture. He was working in a private practice when the opportunity to train as a surveyor came up at a big insurance broker in The City.

Bob said: "Life just worked out one stepping stone after another. I went all around England looking after clients and over to Europe. It was a very interesting job. I met everybody from all walks of life."

He enjoyed lunches with celebrity friends in The City, having got to know fashion icon Mary Quant and worked for Elstree Film Studios. Bob also met Sir Freddie Laker, who was interested in his work as an engineer in the RAF.

He said: "I worked on the airframes and I was in charge of four aircraft in a newly-formed squadron. Because I had been in the Air Force, he invited me to look over his aircraft. It was fascinating. He walked the whole of the concourse just to say hello to me."

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The downside was the travel, although Gloria joked that it was the fact Bob was away so often that they had stayed together so long.

Bob explained: "It involved leaving the family and getting up at the crack of dawn."

Gloria said they had happy times as a family and nice friends, the oldest of which now lives in Aldwick.

The couple had an anniversary meal with family and friends at Casa Ciro in Worthing and celebrated on the day with a party for neighbours.