Warm 65 years of marriage started in the snow

A warm and happy 65 years of marriage have been shared by East Wittering couple Joyce and Frederick Gaines.

Joyce and  Reg Gaines celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary
Joyce and Reg Gaines celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary

But it all started in the cold, as their spring wedding was beset with thick snow – to the point the bride was at least half an hour late getting to the church.

In fact the wedding car came upon a family car that had left earlier, stuck in the snow, and they all ended up helping each other to get to the church.

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Mrs Gaines said: “We got stuck in the snow on the way to the church. I didn’t know how late I was.”

The wedding day at All Saints Church, Wokingham, on March 29, 1952

Mr Gaines, 92, described the snow rather beautifully as ‘heavenly confetti’.

He was born in Portsmouth but as he was growing up, his family moved all over the country due to his father’s job.

The couple met at dancing classes in Wokingham, Berkshire, where Mrs Gaines, 83, was born.

She said: “I was dragged there by a friend and I hate dancing. I still hate dancing.

The wedding day at All Saints Church, Wokingham, on March 29, 1952

“She wanted to learn and she conned me into going with her. I don’t regret it at all now but I didn’t go dancing again after I met him.”

Mr Gaines was in lodgings with two other Freds at the time, so he had become known there by his middle name, Reginald.

“He introduced himself as Reg when he first met me and he never told me any different, so how was I to know,” said Mrs Gaines.

His family was not too happy about it and they still call him Fred but the name Reg had stuck, too.

“When you’ve been a couple a long time, a name sticks,” Mrs Gaines pointed out.

They were married at All Saints Church, Wokingham, on March 29, 1952, and have two sons, Martin and Barry.

Mrs Gaines worked in an office at Wokingham Plastics and Mr Gaines was a gardener working for the headmaster at Wellington College, where the couple moved into a tied cottage straight after the wedding reception.

The snow that had fallen all through the wedding day meant the car became stuck in a snow drift. Seeing they were newly married, people stopped to help but in the end, Mr Gaines carried his new wife home, still in her wedding dress.

When the headmaster retired, the couple decided to move on and Mr Gaines took a gardening job in Old Windsor. Then when his employers moved to the south coast, he went with them.

The Gaines family moved into their current home in Mill Gardens when it was new, in 1977.

Mr Gaines later went self employed and he said it was the best thing he ever did.

“I only really worked for two people over the 20 years and they still keep in touch,” he said.

“We have been lucky in lots of ways.”

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