First of all, the church in which they were married is no longer a church – it’s an op shop. And the RSL hall, located where today’s Byronian cafe stands, and where their reception was held, has long gone.
But what hasn’t gone are the memories of that October day 50 years which were revived at the couple’s Suffolk Park home recently when family and friends joined them for golden wedding celebrations.
As part of those celebrations, Neil and Loretta renewed their vows in the ‘new’ St Paul’s Anglican Church next door to the old church building in which they were married, with recently-retired Father Gary Priest flying in from Adelaide to officiate.
Brian, the eldest of their three sons, played the organ at the ceremony.
Loretta came to Byron Bay from Murwillumbah with her family in 1942, with Neil arriving in the town in 1952 from Casino as a 15-year-old to start as an apprentice electrician at the then Andersons Meatworks, later taken over by Walkers.
He boarded in Ruskin Street and she lived around the corner in Kingsley Street.
They got to know each other through church groups and Loretta also worked in the office at the meatworks.
“I used to go over there (to the office) and do little fiddly jobs,” said Neil.
Loretta remembers her wedding day as ‘exciting’ and recalls the reception being catered for by the church guild.
She said her mother kept a meticulous record of how much was spent, down to the cost of ingredients for the wedding cake.
Those records show that the wedding and reception cost 59 pounds, four shillings and tenpence-halfpenny – which seven years later when Australia went to decimal currency, would have translated into $120, but into day’s terms would be a whole lot more.
For their honeymoon, Neil towed a hired wooden caravan behind his little Austin A40 to what is known today as the Sunshine Coast where they stayed at Noosa and Caloundra, among other places.
Three weeks after the wedding, Neil left the meatworks and with Loretta started Lambs Electrical which is still going today run by their other two sons, Michael and Darrell.
Reflecting on what it took to stay happily married for 50 years, Neil said there had to be help from above and they were just following in the footsteps of their parents and grandparents who had enjoyed long marriages.
“Firstly, it’s God’s will that you live long enough and if you are born into that sort of family, you never know anything else different,” he said.
Along with that, said Loretta, it was important to communicate with each other.
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