A devoted couple celebrated their golden wedding anniversary last week, despite illness casting a shadow over them for the last two years.
Dave and Eileen Doig met in 1968 after writing to each other for two months and following a short courtship, they got married on March 8, 1968 at Lewisham Registry office, London, when Dave was on leave from the army for two weeks.
Their first son, Steve, arrived later that year.
The couple, who live on Barrowby Road, began writing to each other when Eileen lived in Deptford, South London and Dave was in the army in Germany with Eileen’s brother Len.
After leaving the army a year later, the young couple rented a place in London before moving back to Essex and then back to London when Dave got a job as a fireman for London fire brigade.
The couple went on to have three more sons including Michael in 1970, Stuart in 1973 and Jason, who now lives in America, in 1974.
They moved to Foston, near Grantham, in 1984, and Eileen secured work at a wedding dress shop, Hilary Morgan and Little Chef but spent the last 20 years working for the Lincolnshire Country Council before her retirement six years ago. Dave continued to work for the London fire brigade until ill health forced him to take early retirement when he lost a kidney.
But as the years have passed, the whirlwind romance has certainly stood the test of time.
With four sons in tow, the couple have enjoyed “a jam- packed life,” including family holidays on the Norfolk Broads and more recently, in Dubai.
Known for his infectious laugh, Dave would soometimes find himself escorted out of pubs, theatres and cinemas for laughing too loudly.
Eileen said: “When he was working as a safety fireman at a comedy theatre, he actually got told to leave as he was laughing so loud that the audience kept missing the comedians jokes.”
But it wasn’t the first time that Dave’s larger than life personality got him into trouble.
Eileen added: “When I was pregnant with Steve, we went to watch a film at the cinema. I pleaded with Dave to try and control his laughter but it wasn’t long before we were being escorted out by an usher as everyone had started tutting.”
Their lives took on a new meaning when they became grandparents to six grandsons and one granddaughter.
Eileen said: “Dave used to pick them up from school and take them on ‘park runs’ which would mean visiting five or six parks before taking them home for their tea. He would also often take them for breakfast at OK Diner before school. He enjoyed winding us all up.”
But since Dave was diagnosed with having dementia two years ago. life has becoming challenging for the devoted couple.
Eileen said: “We can’t really hold a proper conversation with him now. In the early days after being diagnosed, losing his car was a big blow for him as he has always been so outgoing, even running the London Marathon for charity in 1982. He felt that he had lost his independence.”
Despite the challenges, Eileen beamed when asked what the secret is to a long and happy marriage.
She added: “Dave has been so easy going throughout our entire marriage. He is very happy-go -lucky. He would also say that there was no point in worrying. He was good fun and would always go out of his way to help anyone. He was a joker and we just went well together. I miss his jokes.”
The couple received lots of cards and flowers to mark the milestone occasion last Thursday and celebrated with a takeaway on Saturday with family and friends. Eileen added: “I am not sure what the future holds but we have got a supportive network of friends and family. I have kept all the letters we wrote to each other.
“He will always be my Dave.”