Double diamond anniversary joy for life-long Burnley friends

Two Burnley couples who married in a joint wedding ceremony sixty years ago are set to celebrate six decades of wedded bliss next week.

Wednesday, 23rd September 2020, 3:45 pm

On October 1st, John (80) and Sylvia Gillett 79), of Rosegrove, Burmley and Arthur (79) and Elsie Floyd (78), who live in Simonstone, will mark the special day, but unfortunately due to tighter coronavirus restrictions introduced in Lancashire earlier this week, they won't be able to have family and friends around to celebrate in their joy.

The reason behind the double wedding on October 1st, 1960 at Mount Olivet Baptist Church, was because Sylvia and Arthur are cousins and that most of the guests would be the same so it made financial sense as well as being unusual.

The wedding was in the afternoon, the evening reception at Langroyd Hall in Colne. There were lots of memorable events on their actual wedding day, but one overriding memory is that Richard Gillett, Sylvia's page boy (John's younger brother, who was about three at the time), walked down the aisle jangling keys singing "My old man's a dustman"...which amused everyone!

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(left) Arthur and Elsie Floyd (right) John and Sylvia Gillett

The newlyweds honeymooned in Blackpool and on return made their homes in Burnley.

John Gillett worked as a conductor for Burnley and Pendle bus company, eventually becoming a driver, while Sylvia worked at Hortus Printing as a table hand in Whittlefield, Burnley. They have two children, Sue and Andrew and four grandchildren, Danielle, Shauna, Chantelle and Darien, plus two great-grandchildren, Leo aged three and six-month-old Chloe.

John retired from Burnley and Pendle in 2004, Sylvia stopped work in 1994 to look after the grandchildren. .

Arthur Floyd worked as a lorry driver for Adams' Stores which he did for quite a while. Elsie Floyd worked as a machinist for Lambert Howarth. They had three children - David, who sadly died in 1975 aged 12 of leukemia, and twins Ian and Barry. They have two granddaughters, Shannon and Courtney and one great-granddaughter Autumn. They also have a second great grandchild due in November.

Arthur, Elsie, Sylvia and John on their actual wedding day

The couple moved to Newquay and ran guest houses and a small hotel. After 26 years in Newquay they came back to live in Burnley, in 2002, to be with their family and have no regrets.

Elsie described getting married as the happiest day of her life. She said: "Although it was a double wedding, we were made to feel like it was very individual. Because we had decided to get married in the same month it made sense to have a double wedding with having such big families. I enjoyed every minute of the day."

She recalls neither bride knew what the other bride was wearing so when they saw each other their dresses were very similar as were the head dresses they wore and they complimented each other beautifully.

The couples remain close to this day, chat regularly and go for meals together. They admit they don't have time for hobbies, but John remains a life-long Burnley supporter.

John and Sylvia would say the secret to a long and happy marriage is "mutual love and respect". Obviously they have had their ups and downs, John was diagnosed with bowel cancer in February 2014 and was quite ill for some time and Sylvia nursed him back to health.

The couples are planning to celebrate their diamond anniversaries by going out for a meal and they are also awaiting a congratulatory card from Her Majesty, the Queen.