Belfast Telegraph

Friendship and keeping fit key to Doreen and Bert Rice celebrating 60 years of wedded bliss

 

Bertie and Doreen Rice cut their anniversary cake
Bertie and Doreen Rice cut their anniversary cake
The bridal party 60 years ago
Mark Bain

By Mark Bain

Keeping active, plenty of fresh air and three holidays a year are the secrets of a long marriage, according to a Co Antrim couple who have just celebrated 60 years together.

And Bertie and Doreen Rice, who live in Ballymoney, are determined to 'keep on motoring' as long as they can by remaining each other's best friend long after their diamond anniversary.

Bertie (83) and Doreen (78) were married in St James Presbyterian Church, Ballymoney on December 22, 1959.

"I mostly remember that day for the weather," said Doreen. "It was pouring down with sleet."

There have been many sunnier times since for the still loved-up couple, who continue to enjoy their holidays, days away and long walks in the country.

"We don't intend to just sit about the house. We want to live our lives together to the full as we've always done," said Doreen.

"If there's one thing we would tell people, it's that. Get out of the house and enjoy yourselves. Don't just sit back and let your life drift by."

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The bridal party 60 years ago

Proud grandparents and great-grandparents, the couple worked all their lives.

"Bertie was a factory worker in Coleraine and when that ended he worked with the Post Office until his arthritis forced him into retirement," she said.

"I worked in hospital as an auxiliary nurse for 37 years. We've always been a normal couple who enjoy being together.

"There always has to be a bit of give and take, but we try to pack in as much as we can, just getting on with things."

The couple's son, John, lives 10 minutes away and Doreen and Bertie take great delight in their family.

"We have three grandchildren, Michelle, Christopher and Timothy, and Christopher has an eight-year-old son, Ethan. Watching our family grow has been one of life's great pleasures," said Doreen.

It hasn't all been plain sailing for the couple and they have had to survive several health scares to remain as strong as ever.

"Bertie has come through four by-pass operations and a knee replacement, but we're not letting things like that get in our way.

"We've always managed to get out and about and that isn't going to change."

The couple have many happy memories of their holidays in their caravan around the UK and Ireland, but had to give that up six years ago after Doreen suffered a back injury in a fall and found the trips a little too uncomfortable.

"But we haven't stopped trying to get out and about," she said. "We're involved with the Evergreen Club here in Ballymoney so the social side of life is always active for us.

"I'm on the committee so that keeps me busy," added Doreen, who said a highlight was the club being honoured with the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service in 2019.

"We go bowling together three times a week and we'll be heading off with the club to Harrogate later this year.

"We're also planning to head back to the south of Ireland, but there's still room for one more trip to make our standard three for the year!" she said.

The couple held a small celebration at Millside in Cloughmills before settling back into their regular routine - and only one thing was missing.

"We didn't get a letter from the Queen," said Doreen.

"We didn't realise you have to register. We just assumed it would arrive!

"We are looking into that as it would be a lovely letter to have."

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