Having lived through a World War and survived the Blitz, the family of a Co Antrim couple were not prepared to let Covid-19 stop their parents from celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary.
Catherine (93) and William Young (91) from Glengormley enjoyed a surprise cake and tea with their family to mark their milestone on Friday — albeit with social distancing.
Two of the couple’s three children, Tony (68) and Cathy (64), sprung the welcome surprise while their other son Murray (59), who was unable to be there, visited the day before.
Tony said: “Some people don’t even get to live to 70, and there was no way we could let their 70th wedding anniversary go by without celebrating it.
“Mum doesn’t really understand the social distancing rule and wonders why people can’t go into the house. It is very strange for her.
“We would have taken them out to celebrate, and we will do that when things settle down, but we got the cake made and sat two metres apart in the garden and they were both thrilled.”
Catherine, who is known as Kay, was born in Jerusalem Street in Belfast in 1927 and during the Second World War was evacuated to William’s home town of Aughrim in Londonderry to a family called Woodward.
She grew close to the family and after the war returned to see them for a holiday.
That is when she first met William, who was working in the local shop John Young’s, which was owned by his father.
Their son Tony explained: “My grandfather’s shop was the hub of the local community and people would have walked four or five miles to get their groceries there.
“Dad is the type who could push the lawnmower down the garden once in the sun and he would have a tan for the rest of the year.
“In 1946 mum was visiting the Woodwards on holiday and went into the shop to get a few messages and dad was behind the counter. She says she remembers seeing this tanned man with beautiful white teeth and she fell for him. He was smitten, too, and even though he had served his time as a grocer, which was regarded as a trade then, he moved to Belfast to be with her.”
Catherine worked as a wreath maker and William got a job in Inglis Bakery in Belfast.
The couple married in Newtownbreda Presbyterian Church in 1950.
They moved to Castledawson before returning to Belfast and settling in Glengormley in 1968.
As well as their three children, they have four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Now in their 90s, the couple are as devoted to each other as ever after seven decades together.
Tony added: “Mum had flame-red hair and you cross her at your peril, and dad knows to agree with her to keep the peace. He worships the ground that she walks on.
“They are both in good health and, God willing, when this is all over and we all get through it, we will be able to have a proper family anniversary celebration with them.”