Platinum couple celebrate 70th wedding anniversary
The only thing outstretching the 70 years of love and marriage achieved by this platinum Burnley couple is the number of relatives celebrating with them.
From all over the globe - Canada, America, Australia and Spain - came 150 guests to celebrate the 70th wedding anniversary of Thomas and Cecilia Edmondson. The couple's niece even flew over last minute to avoid missing the party on Saturday, July 1st.
But this dedication to family time is nothing out of the ordinary for 97 year-old Thomas and his 92 year-old spouse, of Holcombe Drive, Burnley, who reached platinum status on Wednesday, July 5th.
"Every Sunday morning we meet up at Mum's for breakfast, whenever we're not working," said their son John. "There's usually up to 30 of us so they have to get out loads of fold-away chairs. You daren't get up in case someone steals your place! And yet we keep breeding!"
Thomas, a former naval officer in the Second World War, was on leave when he met his future wife in 1946 at St Mary's Social Club, Burnley. They married in their 20s - Thomas at 27, Cecelia at 21 - bringing their wedding forward so they could holiday together in the Isle of Man without garnering the disapproval of fellow Catholics.
Together, they had six children - Margaret, Kathleen, Leslie, Christopher, John and Anthony - who went on to give the couple 15 grandchildren. When two more great-great-grandchildren came along in the last two months, they became a family of approximately 82.
"They're both healthy: they don't drink or smoke. In fact, my dad only stopped driving recently," John added. "The doctor told him he could guarantee he'll live to 100 and receive a telegram from the Queen. But when he asked my dad's secret, he was surprised to hear that he doesn't eat vegetables!"
But while many people comment on the pair's youthful looks, life hasn't always been plain-sailing.
"They've always worked hard to make sure we as children had clean clothes on our back and food on the table. Of course, we didn't know we were poor back then but we were in comparison to today's standards. Still, there's always been a lot of love in the house."
Thomas spent his working life in retail, most notably in an ironmonger's shop in Standish Street, Burnley, before becoming a postman in his 60s until retirement. His first job was in a greengrocer's at the age of 12, where he worked until enlisting as a royal marine in the war.
Cecilia, meanwhile, worked as a chiropodist, tending to the feet of Burnley's football stars in the heyday of the 1970s. Following this, she worked for what was the DHS, now known as the DSS.
But despite their hard work ethic, the couple have always made time for each other.
"Their always together," John said. "My mum likes to knit and sings with a group called Young at Heart, which tour care homes and give Christmas concerts. Dad loves to read. He's read every book in the library! But he also travels around with mum's choir, making tea for them all."
And it's clear their loving relationship has proved an endless source of inspiration for their friends and family.
"I think their achievement as a couple is marvellous," John said. "I gave a speech at their party and sang them a song I'd written about them being a wonderful pair. It was based on Louis Armstrong's What a Wonderful World. I can't sing but they adored it anyway!"
At the end of the day, what seems to have kept them together is the oath of the wedding vow: standing by one another through thick and thin.
""They're always supporting each other and so we children have grown up close. There's a lot of love in the family and all of us love them to bits and wish them many more years together. We hope they both reach their 100th year of life and receive a telegram from the Queen."