A World War Two Spitfire mechanic and the young girl he met and fell in love with at a Flintshire aircraft factory have celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.
Ernest Simmonds and his wife, Gwyneth, both 92, held a platinum anniversary party for family, friends and staff at Pendine Park’s Hillbury Care Home in Wrexham, North Wales, where she now lives as one of the residents.
The couple met at the Vickers Aircraft Factory in Broughton where they both worked after the war ended and say they are as much in love now as they were on their wedding day in 1948.
Still utterly devoted, Ern as he prefers to be known, visits Gwyneth at Hillbury every single day.
According to Ern, he wouldn’t change a about his “wonderful wife” whom he describes as the best cook in the whole world.
He said: “She’s a fantastic cook the very best. No one can cook like she can. We have a wonderful marriage and it’s not over yet by a long way.
“I wish she was still at home with me but I couldn’t manage to look after her to be honest, it was too much if she fell and she was doing that quite a lot.”
According to Ern, who was in the Fleet Air Arm during the war, he looked after two Spitfires down in Somerset after he’d trained near Cannock Chase.
He said: “The two Spitfires I looked after went over to France on D-Day and I never found out what happened to them.
“I then got posted to Australia for a year with the Fleet Air Arm. I was only a young man. When I got de-mobbed I landed a job at Broughton in the aircraft factory.
“That’s where I met Gwyneth. I was from Brynteg and she was originally from Coedpoeth. We were both working in the aircraft factory but I was making portable houses. I was working at one bench and Gwyneth and her friend were at a different one quite close to mine.
“We started talking and my boss eventually said he was moving Gwyneth to my bench as we might get more work done if we were together instead of me trying to talk to her all the time.
“We started going out, but we can’t remember where we went on our first date, it was too long ago. I eventually plucked up courage and asked her dad at their house in Brymbo and thank goodness he said yes!”
Gwyneth says she has had the perfect husband who has also always been her best friend too.
She said: “We have had a marvellous life together and no matter where we have been and what we have done we have had a good time. He has always been there for me.
“Ern’s sister, Beatrice, was my bridesmaid and my brother, Lawrence was Ern’s best man. We were married at Brymbo Church and it was a Monday morning wedding.”
She added: “People ask me what ‘s the secret to being married 70 years, well it’s making sure you don’t fall out and if you do, make up it up straight away. That’s what we have always done and it works.
“I wouldn’t swap Ern for anything, he’s the best husband any one could ever have had. We used to enjoy ballroom dancing a lot and Ern has always loved his snooker.”
Gwyneth and Ern, who y worked as a crane driver in Brymbo Steelworks, had four children, Anne, who is now 69, Vera, now 61, Robert now 58 and Phillip, now 56 and have five grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
Phillip says the whole family is proud of Gwyneth and Ern’s achievement and adds they have always been happy together.
He said: “They have never been apart until mum had to move into a Hillbury in December. It was just before Christmas and I thought it would prove to be a terrible thing but in actual fact it’s really helped.
“Dad is more relaxed now. He couldn’t cope at home and mum was equally unhappy. Now she gets spot on care and dad visits her every day and very often has lunch with her.
“He is still driving so gets himself down here whenever he wants. Mum had been in Chirk Hospital for quite some time and was getting a bit down and depressed but since she has been at Hillbury the improvement is amazing. And dad is so much more relaxed and back to his old self.”
Phillip’s sister, Vera said: “We simply cannot fault Hillbury House and the care mum receives and the fact dad can call in anytime he wants, he even came for Christmas Day dinner and his tea, makes such a difference.
“We have seen a huge improvement in both them both mentally and physically. Dad does miss having mum at home, of course he does, but this is the next best thing and we can’t thank Cindy and her team enough.
“The minute you walk through the door the atmosphere is just so warm and inviting and the care is just unbelievably good.”
Hillbury manager Cindy Clutton says Gwyneth has settled into Hillbury exceptionally well and is a “very popular lady” with both care staff and residents.
She said: “Ern wasn’t managing to care for Gwyneth, who is struggling with mobility, so it was best she came into a care home environment. We make sure Ern is welcome to visit as often and for as long as he likes.”
“To have been married for 70 years and to still be so obviously devoted to each other is a fantastic achievement and I couldn’t be happier for them. What a remarkable achievement.”