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Burton Bradstock couple celebrate 70 years together
FORMER soldier Derek Parsons might not remember the exact reasons he singled out a 20-year-old woman called Valerie to be his wife more than 70 years ago.
But he does know she was the only one for him.
And today, January 16 the Burton Bradstock couple are celebrating their platinum wedding anniversary.
They met in Leicester as teenagers as their families had known each other for years.
Derek was 22 when he plucked up the courage to propose to Valerie, 20 – in the car park of the Grand Hotel in Leicester.
Derek said: “I don’t think I was nervous but I probably was.
“There was no doubt in my mind she was the one for me, there were no others.
“She was fun and a great hostess. Valerie was very sociable and had many friends.”
Derek was in the Territorial Army before the war and was a 2nd Lieutenant while at school.
For his wedding the Royal Artillery junior officer managed a week’s leave for his honeymoon in London where they dined at The Savoy – only for the air raid siren to interrupt and condemn them to a night in the basement shelter.
Shortly after their marriage he was sent to the Far East and didn’t return for three years.
It was because of the war they married so young, he said, but he has never had any regrets.
He said: “We got engaged in 1942 and married a year later.
“Within three months I was going abroad to fight in India and Burma and didn’t come back for three years. We were all in the same boat in those days.”
Valerie spent the war years at a Red Cross nurse in Brooksby Hall in Melton Mowbray.
When the war finally ended they managed a second honeymoon in the Lake District before setting up home in Surrey where the former army major got a job as a charge hand with Bowater Paper Corporation.
He worked his way up to director and his wife brought up their two children.
Mr Parsons, 93 in February, retired in 1981 and the couple made their home in Burton Bradstock where Derek spent many happy hours on the golf course with his friend, the late Gwyn Pritchard.
Mr Parsons was also chairman of the National Trust Golden Cap Centre for ten years.
Valerie, now 90, was happy with her sewing and embroidery. Although she is now in a home Mr Parsons visits her three times a week.
And the secret of their long and happy marriage?
Mr Parsons said: “I can sum it up in two words ‘yes dear’.
“We had our ups and downs like other people but you have to overcome them. It was also about having been brought up in the army with a sense of discipline and loyalty.”
THE YEAR 1943
- The Prime Minister was Winston Churchill and George VI was on the throne.
- In the Second World War, the Allies invaded Sicily and Italy, with the country surrendering later in the year.
- The allies also captured Tunis to signal the end of the north Africa campaign.
- The first Bevin Boys were selected to work in the coal mines.
- The Warsaw ghetto uprising in occupied Poland.
- The USSR defeat the Nazis at Stalingrad but also claim to have won the day at Leningrad.
- Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt meet at the Tehran conference to discuss war strategy.
- Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma opens on Broadwey.