Suffolk Show countdown: Diamond couple’s show romance
- Credit: Gregg Brown
A romance which blossomed at the Suffolk Show in the 1950s culminated in 60 years of married bliss for one country-loving couple.
Jean and John Bennett celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary in June last year after meeting up at the show through friends. They had first seen each other at another country show, but when the Suffolk Show came to John’s home turf at Rougham, where he and his family lived and he worked, they hit it off immediately.
They found they had a lot in common - both were only children, and both loved country life and attending agricultural shows. Five years later, they tied the knot.
At the time, Jean, now 81, was working for Goldsmith Brothers, a seed merchants based at Garland Street in Bury St Edmunds, where she started at the age of 15.
“That year, the first year I was there, they used to have a tent at the shows and, of course, we from the office were out there and we were giving out a cup of tea and a biscuit, and it was as basic as that in those days,” she recalled.
Jean was invited back to John’s aunt and uncle’s to dine that night. Vera and Sid Bennett were vice-presidents, which meant that in subsequent years the pair, and later their children too, were able to go to the Suffolk Show, which at the time moved around the county, as their guests.
Sid and Vera owned a farm and hired land from the Agnew family, which owned the Rougham estate where the show was held that year. Today, the A14 runs through the area where the show took place the year they met.
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John, who is 83 this month, recalls accompanying a friend with some Friesian cows and quietly getting to know Jean.
“We didn’t have much to say really. I went with no intention of seeing girls, but it ended up different anyway,” he said. “I met her mum and dad there, funnily enough.”
The two families immediately found they got on well. Jean’s father worked on a farm at Great Barton, which meant they had much in common.
“We got on well together and our parents got on well,” said John.
“We were married in 1954 and the children were born in 1957 and 1960,” added Jean.
“I was an only one and John was an only one. John’s parents took to me right from the start. The whole family, whatever we had on, whether it was John’s parent’s or my parents or his aunt and uncle, we were always a family group and spent a lot of time together.”
Jean and John, who are now great grandparents, had two children, Sharon and Paul.
John worked for Sid for 22 years on the farm at Rougham but suffered from knee problems which eventually meant he had to find a new career, despite loving his farmwork. He was keen on cars, and worked for various garages until he retired. Ten years ago, they moved out of their home of 50 years and into a more manageable bungalow.
“We had a big garden and always grew our own vegetables and we are just country poeple and loved the show,” said Jean.
They have always kept up an interest in the show, but haven’t attended in recent years because of mobility problems.
“We have not been for a few years, which is a bit unfortunate,” admitted Jean.
The Suffolk Show takes place on May 27 and 28. For the latest news and to buy discounted tickets, visit www.suffolkshow.co.uk.