Burnley couple celebrate blue sapphire milestone as they mark 65 years of marriage
Sylvia and James "Jim” Woodward, both retired, marked 65 years of marriage on Boxing Day with a family party.
They are one of the only couples in Britain to receive two royal telegrams recognising their milestone, one from Queen Elizabeth II and one from King Charles.
Sylvia, who is originally from Nelson, said: “It was a surprise. I didn’t realise we were going to get a telegram, and then we got another from the King and Queen Consort. There won’t be many people who will get both in their lifetime.”
The 81-year-old added: "I think it’s a really good achievement. There aren’t many [couples] that get to 65 years. Our family thinks it’s marvellous that we have come so far from the age we were when we got married."
The teenage sweethearts met at the Tivoli Picture House in Burnley in 1957 and married when Sylvia was 16 and Jim was 18 at St John’s Church.
They went on to have five children – Christine, Janice, Stephen, Jackie and Nicola – as well as 11 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren, with another on the way.
Jim, now 83, made parts for aeroplanes at Rolls Royce for a living while his wife worked in a pharmacy for nine years, before becoming a vets receptionist when the family moved to Burnley.
They took up ballroom dancing as they grew older and competed in dog and rabbit shows together, and they now both enjoy gardening.
Jim says the secret to their long marriage is “love and friendship” while Sylvia reveals that it is also down to “plenty of give and take, lots of laughs, and not too many arguments”.
She said: “Most of the things we do, we do together. If we’re doing a job, we help each other out. It’s give and take."
And it is the very thing – that youthful spirit – that people warned them would break their relationship that seems to have helped to keep them strong for more than six decades, says Sylvia.
As she added: "People call us old teenagers. We still think we’re teenagers. People told us it wouldn’t last and that we were too young but they were wrong. We found out we weren’t too young.”