Valentine’s is gem of a day
It was love at first sight for sporting enthusiasts Ralph and Pauline Harding and today the romantic couple celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary.
The couple didn’t intend to marry on Valentine’s Day, it just happened to fall on the very Saturday the couple wanted for their wedding day.
They met when they were both playing sport at Devizes Sports Club in London Road.
Recalling the moment he saw his future wife Mr Harding, 86, said: “I used to see this blonde lady on a bike come and play tennis at the sports club. I was playing hockey there and my sister, Pat, knew Pauline and introduced us.”
The couple hit it off straight away and courted for four years.
Mrs Harding (nee Doel), 83, who was a clerk at Barclays Bank in The Brittox, Devizes, said: “I thought Ralph was the bee’s knees.”
Mr Harding, who was born at Ivy House, Devizes, said: “I was besotted with her.”
Of their long and happy marriage, Mr Harding said: “We both clicked and got on together. We have had our differences like everyone, no doubt, but we always made up.”
Born in Trowbridge, Mrs Harding moved to Devizes when she was eight as her father, Walter, was the engineer in charge of the buses for Bath Tramways and latterly Bristol Tramways.
The couple got married at the former St Mary’s Congregational Church, Northgate Street, Devizes, on February 14, 1953. They woke that morning to find a foot of snow had fallen.
Apart from wet feet for the groom and a creased train on the bride’s dress from holding it up out of the snow, the wedding went ahead without a hitch. However, the snow did prevent the photographer from making it to the church so the photos were taken at the reception at Devizes Town Hall. The couple honeymooned on the Italian Riviera, the first time they had gone abroad.
Mr Harding worked at his parent’s farm, Manor Farm, Marston, and in 1960 he and his wife moved to Liddington Warren Farm, Upper Wanborough, which he ran with his brother, Percy. They had sheep, cattle and pigs and Mrs Harding would help out with milking and other duties as well as bringing up their four children, Mark, Stephen, Sarah and Katharine. They also have three grandchildren, Matthew, Kirstie and Emma.
When her children were older, Mrs Harding ran a kitchen hardware and vintage clothes shop in Aldbourne by the village pump.
The couple played tennis together over the years at Aldbourne Tennis Club. Mrs Harding used to coach there and Mr Harding still plays there and at Devizes Tennis Club twice a week. He played hockey for Marlborough and Wiltshire and played until he was 63.
When Mr Harding retired at 65 they moved to Broadleas Close, Devizes, where they still live.
The couple’s interests include family history and Mr Harding volunteers three mornings a week at Devizes Hospital tending plants in the grounds and helping to sort medical records.