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Love that never tyres

PUBLISHED: 11:25 28 January 2010 | UPDATED: 17:33 25 August 2010

HAPPY: Lily and Ernie Witcomb.

HAPPY: Lily and Ernie Witcomb.

A COUPLE celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary despite the groom being called up by the army three days after the wedding. Parents-of-one Ernie, 91, and Lily Witcomb, 95, from Welling, celebrated their diamond anniversary last Thursday with champagne

A COUPLE celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary despite the groom being called up by the army three days after the wedding.

Parents-of-one Ernie, 91, and Lily Witcomb, 95, from Welling, celebrated their diamond anniversary last Thursday with champagne and a visit by the Bexley mayor and mayoress.

The couple met on New Year's Eve 1936 in Seymour Hall, Marylebone. The women were sat on one side of the hall and the men on the other.

A friend dared Mr Witcomb to go and speak to his future bride.

Mr Witcomb, owner of the famed company, Witcomb Cycles, said: "She looked the best. I went over and asked her to dance. And when that was over, I asked her if she wanted a lemonade or an orange juice and she said yes. We danced from 9pm until about 2am."

Mrs Witcomb "was in service" at the exclusive The Bath Club, where the current Queen went swimming.

The couple decided to get engaged on New Year's Eve 1938 and rushed ahead with the wedding the year after, when they expected the groom to get called up to complete his service in World War Two.

They married in St Paul's Church, Forest Gate, and in three days Mr Witcomb received papers calling on him to serve within days.

He said: "I rang up the War Office and they gave me until February 9."

For seven years he worked in England and Scotland, attached to the Royal Army Medical Corps.

After the war, he rekindled his father's sideline of making bikes.

The couple started making racing bikes in their back garden and in time built up the firm, previously based in Tanners Hill, Deptford, to an international reputation.

Mr Witcomb said: "I used to make two and six in a week and found it very hard at the beginning.

"I miss the firm and working very much. I can't get used to not working. I retired three times. When I was 90, I thought it was time to change that and retire properly."

Mrs Witcom said: "It is strange being together indoors all the time. Although we worked together all those years, it's different being at home together.

"We get on fine. Like everyone else we have our arguments. It would be silly as a woman to give in all the time."

Mr Witcomb added: "I am a very, very lucky man. The secret of a long marriage is never go to sleep on an argument and always see the other person's point of view."

He told the Times, he is excited about the Olympic Games coming back to London, after he volunteered in the cycling division for the 1948 Games, which were also held in the capital. He added: "I hope I shall see them.


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