A couple from Sarratt who met as teenagers at a local church during World War II have celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary.
Roy and Sheila Burgess first met when Sheila Coppock moved to Garston with her parents and settled in First Avenue around 1940. Born in Worcester, she had previously lived in Derby before moving to Watford as a teenager where she attended Watford Grammar School for Girls .
Coming from a Seventh-day Adventist background, she became a member of the nearby Stanborough Park Church where she met Watford-born Roy Burgess who grew up in Fuller Road and attended Parkgate, Callowland, Stanborough Park and Leggatts Way schools.
Sheila went to college in Bishop’s Stortford to train as a teacher while Roy studied to become a Seventh-day Adventist minister.
They married at Stanborough Park Church on August 18, 1952, and began a semi-nomadic life as Roy’s work led to him looking after churches in Cornwall, Hampshire, Northern and Southern Ireland, Wales, Gloucestershire and finally Stanborough Park Church itself, where he served as Senior Pastor from 1983 to 1990. He then looked after the Hemel Hempstead church briefly until his retirement in 1991.
Sheila worked as a primary school teacher for 30 years becoming head of the Stow-on-the-Wold Infant School from 1976 to 1985.
The couple have two children, four grandchildren aged between 17 and 21, and great-grandchild Lillie who is six months old.
Son David lives in Watford with wife Alison and children Naomi and Michael, and daughter Elaine lives near Tamworth with husband Graham and also has a son and daughter, Emily and David, and grand-daughter Lillie.
Roy and Sheila have maintained an active retirement lifestyle. Roy still preaches regularly in Seventh-day Adventist churches and they share a love of gardens, gardening and travel.
They have travelled extensively across Europe, especially Switzerland, the USA and the Caribbean, and have recently “discovered” Cyprus which is becoming a favourite holiday destination. Roy also enjoys ornithology.
However, they celebrated their big day nearer home, in the Isles of Scilly, a place they intended to visit during their honeymoon but never did. It has taken 60 years to finally achieve their goal.
They were “absolutely delighted” to receive a diamond wedding card from the Queen and maintain that the secret to a happy marriage is, according to Sheila to “take one day at a time” to which Roy adds “and then hope it gets better” and to have shared interests, a strong faith and the love and support of their own and the church family.