A Grantham couple who met by chance are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary today.
Jim Chalmers, 79, was working for Nottingham plumbing firm, Hiltons, when he started working at the Co-op in Boston, where he met Dorothy, who was working as a sales assistant.
But it was not just Jim that Dorothy had caught the eye of.
Jim said: “My work colleague also liked Dorothy but didn’t have the courage to talk to her, so would ask me to take her flowers from him. It was only when he moved away that I asked Dorothy out.”
After courting each other for six months, Jim plucked up the courage to propose to Dorothy in two letters, after seeking permission from Dorothy’s father, Bill Hackett, first. Dorothy, 79, said: “I have still got the letters now.”
The couple were married at St Christopher’s Church in Sneiton, Nottingham, in 1957, before moving in together in West Bridgford, Nottingham.
Their first daughter, Helen, arrived two years later in 1959. But it wasn’t long before the couple were separated when Jim was called up for National Service when Helen was just four months old.
Jim said: “It was tough having to say goodbye to Dorothy and Helen, not knowing when I would see them again.”
After completing his National Service, Jim joined the British Army permanently and later became a regimental sergeant major (RSM). Their second daughter, Sandra, and son Steven followed shortly afterwards.
After travelling around the country and living in Germany for three years, the family settled in Farndale Crescent, Grantham, in 1975.
Dorothy said: “We wanted to be in the middle of my family in Boston and Jim’s family in Nottingham, so Grantham was ideal, especially as Grantham had some of the cheapest properties in the UK at the time.”
After 22 years as an RSM, Jim retired from the army in 1982 and took up plumbing again for the prison service, before retiring completely in 1998. Once the children were at school, Dorothy worked at the former Fine Fair supermarket on Castlegate. She later became a manageress at Kitchens and Bathrooms in Grantham. After retirement, the couple took up ballroom dancing and sequence dancing. They have also been able to indulge their passion for travelling, visiting Thailand, America, Singapore, Malta and often spending months at a time in Spain.
But when they are not travelling, they can either be found in their garden or walking into town, which they do most days. They are also proud grandparents to Steven, Louise and Ethan and great-grandparents to two-year-old Liliana.
When asked what they think the secret to a happy marriage is, they said being able to have a difference of opinion was important.
Jim laughed: “We are always suspicious of people who never argue.”
Being able to have a laugh together is also key to a good marriage. Dorothy added: “Jim has a great sense of humour. He is always making me laugh by doing silly things.”
The couple are celebrating with a party on Saturday with their family and friends.