A couple who reached their ruby wedding anniversary last weekend dated for just four days before they got engaged – and they’re still going strong 40 years down the line.
Jim and Jenny Iles, of Two Beeches, Avon Square, Hemel Hempstead, celebrated four decades of marriage by throwing a party with family and friends on Sunday.
The pair got hitched on July 3, 1976 after Jenny replied to an advert from Jim, now 73, in the lonely hearts column of the local Evening Post-Echo newspaper.
Jenny, who moved to Abbots Langley with her family when she was eight, said: “We met on the Tuesday and were engaged by the Friday. We just knew it was right.”
At the time, Jenny says some family members had their reservations about the whirlwind romance – but they proved them wrong.
The 63-year-old said: “Jim is my soulmate – I like everything about him.
“We spend a lot of time together and a lot of people say ‘Oh, you must have your own lives too’ but we’re not like that. We’ve just always got on and we’re very happy.”
Less than a year after they first met, the Iles were married in a ceremony at St Lawrence Church in Abbots Langley before holding a reception at Bedmond Village Hall with more than 150 family and friends.
Mother-of-two Jenny recalls her wedding day during the infamous sweltering summer heatwave of 1976 – officially the hottest since records began.
She said: “I was absolutely boiling in my dress. There was no air conditioning back then and when we got to our reception, all the food had been ruined by ants and all the beer was warm.
“Then when we got home, we realised the confetti people had thrown over us had melted into our skin, it was that hot! We still had a lovely day though.”
The pair had to postpone their honeymoon until the September as Jim, who worked as a postman, was unable to get time off work.
Jenny, who has worked in retail all her life, said: “We booked a week in Devon and it did nothing but rain – after all that nice weather we had!”
After their rainy start to wedded bliss, the couple settled into their cottage in Abbots Langley and welcomed oldest son Stephen, now 38, and youngest son Christopher, now 30.
The pair lived in Highfield, Boxmoor and Redbourn Road respectively until five years ago, when they moved into their sheltered housing flat in Grovehill, near to Stephen and Christopher who live in Grovehill and Adeyfield respectively.
Christopher’s daughter Carly, eight, regularly visits and stays over at her grandparents, which Jim and Jenny look forward to.
Grandmother-of-one Jenny said: “She stays once a fortnight and it’s lovely to have her. She keeps us young!”
The couple have not had a holiday for 15 years, but in August they are taking a trip to Great Yarmouth to mark their special anniversary.
Jenny, who grew up with 13 siblings, said: “We had many happy holidays in Great Yarmouth when the boys were young so that’s why we’ve chosen to go there.”