Sidmouth couple celebrate diamond wedding anniversary
PUBLISHED: 18:26 07 September 2017
Family and friends have toasted a ‘special’ Sidmouth couple who have marked their diamond wedding anniversary.
Ernest and Dorothy Bathurst said they have had God’s blessing to reach the milestone after meeting when they were 16.
They first set eyes on each other at Christian camp and throughout their marriage have been active within their church community.
Kent-born Ernest, 83, had attended boys’ camp with his cousin and had been asked if he could stay to help set up ahead of the girls’ arrival.
He returned while the camp was in full flow and set eyes on his future wife as she led the prayers describing her as the girl with golden hair.
The pair did not properly get to know each other until they met at a camp reunion and exchanged photographs.
They corresponded by letters and visits to London where Dorothy was training to become a nurse and Ernest was at university following his national service.
When Dorothy was at home in Hampshire, Ernest would cycle 100 miles from his home in Kent to see her.
They became engaged in 1954 and married three years later on August 31 1957 in Marchwood Chapel, near Dorothy’s home in the New Forest.
Describing the proposal, Ernest said: “It was on a train between Southampton and London. We got off the train at Waterloo, it was a lovely summer’s afternoon and Westminster’s bells were ringing. We had a full peel of bells ringing.”
Soon after marrying they moved to Lancashire for Ernest’s first teaching role as an assistant lecturer.
The great-grandfather-of-one said: “I got a job, a degree and a wife in one month.”
The couple moved to Sidmouth in 1968 as Ernest was appointed director of studies and deputy principal at Bicton agricultural college.
They stayed in Woolbrook Road for seven years before moving back up north to Derbyshire for 16 years, returning to Sidmouth in 1991.
The couple have four sons, Paul, Mark, John and James, 11 grandchildren and one great-grandson.
Dorothy, 84, said: “God has been so gracious to us and so faithful, he has been good to us all these years of our married life.”
At a celebration on Saturday they were joined at Knowle by loved ones. The couple asked for donations rather than presents to help Send a Cow, a charity providing those in poverty with livestock to feed themselves and build a business.
Their granddaughter Catherine Hadley said her grandparents were an inspiration to the family.
She said: “I think the whole family would agree that my grandparents are a very special couple, and we all love them very much for their kindness, generosity and good humour.
“Even after 60 years of marriage and a family, which now spans four generations, they remain very much in love and an inspiration to all of us. It was wonderful to celebrate them at the weekend with lots of family and friends.”