Fifty years ago Val Odell was discharged from the Army after she married her sweetheart Jack by special licence in a ceremony in Shropshire.
Val had not been given permission to marry Jack, who was not in the Army, and so was forced to leave.
The couple followed their wedding at Oswestry Register Office, on February 16, with a blessing ceremony a few weeks later on March 5 in Reigate Congregational Church, Surrey, where Jack hails from originally, surrounded by friends and family.
Val, 74, said: “When I went back to the Army I was no longer Private Johnson, I was Mrs Odell and I was discharged!”
The couple first met in Shropshire when Val was in the church choir and Jack was at agricultural college. He later went out to Malawi in Africa to work for the government, helping local people to look after poultry.
Val, who had joined the Women’s Royal Army Corps, corresponded with Jack over a number of years and when he returned to England on six months’ leave he proposed and they were soon married.
The couple then moved to Malawi in Africa where Val says they enjoyed a ‘three year honeymoon’.
On their return to England, the couple lived in Caythorpe and Jack, now 78, became a lecturer at nearby Kesteven Agricultural College where he would stay for 25 years.
The couple have a son and a daughter, Steven who was born in Malawi, and Anita, and five granddaughters. They all live in Grantham.
Val later became a auxiliary nurse working around the district.
The couple moved to Great Gonerby in 1981 and to Croft Drive in Grantham, where they now live, eight years ago.
In their retirement, Val and Jack keep themselves busy with their interests. Val enjoys writing poetry which has been pubished in the Journal and in a few books. She also enjoys sewing. Jack sings with Grantham Choral Society and Grantham Singers and also enjoys walking and birdwatching. He has a number of commitments with ChristChurch in the town.
Jack said: “Val is a good wife, a good mother and a good grandmother. We are very lucky because our family all live in Grantham and we can see them weekly.”
On a long and happy marriage, Val said: “You have to look after each other and be happy with each other whatever happens.”
Val and Jack will celebrate their anniversary with friends and family on Saturday, February 20, at the Eden House Hotel.
On the following day they will have a blessing at ChristChurch followed by a family meal.