Barry and Judith Derby will be counting their blessings when they celebrate their Golden wedding tomorrow (Saturday) at a party with family and friends at the Croxton Kerrial bungalow where they have spent most of their married life.
Serious illness left 76-year-old Barry fighting for his life in hospital last year and the couple feared they would not be able to reach their 50th anniversary.
But he recovered from acute pancreatitis after a pep talk from his devoted wife, who recalled: “We were told at one stage he only had 24 hours to live. I told him ‘you had blooming well better get yourself better because we have a big anniversary coming up next year’.”
Judith (72) will be well known to readers as a former world champion flower arranger, who travelled the world representing her country at international competitions.
She has competed in South Africa, Italy and all over the United States and has also met and presented flowers to Prince Charles, Princess Anne and the late Princess Diana.
Judith said: “I’ve had a fantastic life. The secret to our happy marriage is the support Barry has given me throughout. He has backed me all the way.”
The couple met in 1959 at a dance at Waltham village hall. Their paths crossed again in Grantham some time later outside a snack bar in Grantham. “Barry was there with all his friends and us girls were there with our short, frilly dresses and we got chatting again,” recalled Judith.
They eventually married at Croxton Kerrial Parish Church and honeymooned in London. Barry, who was a maintenance engineer at Pedigree Petfoods in Melton for 25 years, said: “I remember on our wedding day it was foggy, snowy and rainy but we had a lovely day.”
The couple had started building the bungalow they still live in today, on High Street, but it wasn’t ready to move in to after they married because of delays caused by one of the worst winters on record. Instead the couple spent their first few months of married life at Judith’s mother’s house.
Around 30 family members and friends will toast the Derbys’ 50th wedding anniversary tomorrow when a three-course menu will be served. The couple have two sons, Simon (47) and Gareth (45), grandchildren Kayleigh, Alex, Elliott, William and Claire, plus one great-granddaughter, Ruby.