A devoted couple have celebrated 50 years of marriage by revisiting the Mid Wales church where they first exchanged vows in 1971.
John and Di Winterton, from Surrey, travelled to Llandrindod Wells earlier this month to mark the special anniversary.
The couple were married at St. John’s Llechryd, Cwmbach, on August 7, 1971 - the same church where Di’s mum was married - and had their photograph taken on the church path.
They then returned to the church for their ruby anniversary in 2011 and had another photo in the same place. Rev. Ben Griffith gave them the chance to renew their marriage vows and he also blessed a new ring for John.
The couple then decided to make the four-hour drive once again and return to the church to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary this year on Saturday, August 7.
They travelled over to Wales with their younger son, Dan, his wife, Kerry, and their children Alisha, Jesse, Adam and Harley.
Di explained: “This time the church was deemed unsafe and was closed, but the curate-in-charge, Rev Peter Letson, offered to meet us at the church porch and say a few prayers with us - time for another photo in the same spot!”
The couple then topped off the occasion with afternoon tea at the Metropole Hotel, where they were joined by local friends and family.
The grandparents-of-four didn’t receive any gifts for their landmark anniversary, instead offering family and friends the opportunity to donate to the Wales Air Ambulance Charity.
Di said: “I often feel as if I was born in Wales! My grandparents lived all their lives in Cwmbach. Then my Mum moved into their house after my grandmother died.
“I have spent most summer holidays there since I can remember, also bringing my own sons to holiday with their Nan! I still have a number of friends in the area too. So, I have strong emotional ties to Wales.”
Di added: “At our age we don’t need gifts. We are very blessed to have sufficient pension to be able to afford our needs.”
Di picked the Wales Air Ambulance to receive their donations in lieu of gifts after reading about the work the charity does, and said: “Speedy intervention can save lives and certainly improve recovery if medical attention can be provided fast. In rural areas this can be hard to achieve with the distances involved in trying to drive someone very sick to a hospital. Air access makes so much sense. We wanted to support a local charity to Mid Wales.”
The couple had a beautiful cake made by Lesley Thompson of Cilmeri, which was placed on a special cushion made by Di’s close friend, the late Ann Mills of Rhulen, who also made the original wedding cake.
After the celebrations, the couple spent the rest of their time in Mid Wales showing their grandchildren around, while highlighting the family connections with the locations.
John said: “The rest of the weekend consisted of a family history trail of places in and around Llandrindod associated with their ancestors. The grandchildren became detectives following a series of clues devised by their nan, Di, and they had great fun.”
John and Di, who first met in amateur drama group, have lots of special memories from their wedding day in 1971.
Di said: “Our best memories of our wedding would be the unexpected things - Ann Mills’ father, Charlie Nixon, filmed us outside the church, before and after the wedding ceremony and a little at the reception at Fforest Inn. He then gave us the film - we still have it and showed at the afternoon tea.
“A second thing came as we began to sing our first hymn, Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah, an amazing volume of singing came from behind us. That was lovely and so unexpected. No doubt helped by the good number of people from the village who turned up to the service to support us.”
When asked about the secret to a long and happy marriage, Di said: “It’s hard to pin it down to just one! But these come to mind - maintaining good communication, being tolerant and respecting each other and being supportive of each other’s interests and activities.”There are several ways that you can continue to support the Wales Air Ambulance Charity. These include online donations, signing up to the Charity’s Lifesaving Lottery or by coming up with innovative ways to fundraise. Further information can be found via www.walesairambulance.com. Alternatively, a £5 text-message donation can be made by texting the word HELI to 70711.