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Love blossoms

PUBLISHED: 17:37 01 October 2008 | UPDATED: 11:34 12 August 2010

CHILDHOOD sweethearts who met when one threw a garden weed at another celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary this month. Walter and Winifred Clarke have lived through a world war, the swinging 60s, and the death of a king and coronation of a queen al

CHILDHOOD sweethearts who met when one threw a garden weed at another celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary this month.

Walter and Winifred Clarke have lived through a world war, the swinging 60s, and the death of a king and coronation of a queen all while living in the same house in Petts Wood.

The pair met in 1932 when Winifred, just 15 at the time, was doing some gardening in Bellingham and "accidentally" threw a weed at her future hubby.

She said: "Let's just say it was half accident, half on purpose."

Their love blossomed and engagement followed, but after five years of saving for the wedding, Britain was on the brink of WWII and young lovers across the country were urgently getting wed before the men went to war.

Mrs Clarke, 91, remembers the day as if it was yesterday. She said: "We had trouble booking the church because everyone wanted to get married quickly, but we managed to secure September 18, 1938. It was a bit drizzly in the morning but then in the afternoon it really brightened up and it was lovely. We had all the family over and had the reception in Walter's mum's big house in Forest Hill.

"But we didn't get off to a very good start. Everyone was praying war wouldn't break out and when Walter was called up, I was five months pregnant with our first son Graham. It was horrible.

"Walter went to Egypt and didn't see Graham until he was three years old. When he came back, Graham couldn't understand why I had a man sleeping in my bed and Walter found it a bit strange having a child.

"We are just as happy today as we were when we got married. Maybe not in the same lovey-dovey way we were then, but we look after each other very well.

"I love everything about Walter. He has a great sense of humour. He's in the bathroom singing right now. He'll be in there for at least half-an-hour.

"We agree on everything, we're too old to argue. The reason we have stayed together so long is tolerance and understanding. We've had our differences but we've always sorted them out, and usually before bed. I can't believe we have been married for so long."

In 2005, the couple had to say farewell to their home in Petts Wood where they had lived for 67 years, to move into a retirement home together in Edenbridge.

Mrs Clarke said: "We were sad to leave our home but we knew it was for the best.

"Walter has mild dementia now, but we're very happy here."

The couple have three sons, nine grandchildren and are looking forward to the birth of their 10th great grandchild, who is due on Christmas Day.

katherine.nelson@archant.co.uk

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