Couple celebrate 60 years of marriage

Betty has spent the last thirty years raising money for Redwings Horse Sanctuary with her husband, Michael

Betty has spent the last thirty years tirelessly raising money for Redwings Horse Sanctuary with the help of her husband, Michael - Credit: Watkins family

Their first meeting did not go well, but soldier Michael Watkins would eventually win his future bride,  round - and today the couple are celebrating their Diamond Wedding.

Mr Watkins, 82, and his wife, Betty, 79, first met at the cinema, said their daughter Michaela Smy.

“I think my dad was doing his national service at the time. He was smoking in the row behind my mum, and he kept blowing smoke all over her. She absolutely hated it!” 

This first encounter might have not have gone too well, but Mr Watkins’ natural charm won out. The pair started dating, and were married on January 6, 1962 at the bride's local church in Sloley, Norfolk.

Michael and Betty married at Betty's local church in Sloley, surrounded by their family

Michael and Betty married at Betty's local church in Sloley, surrounded by their family - Credit: Watkins family

“Both my parents are from Norfolk,” Michaela explained. Her dad was the son of a gamekeeper, while her mum's father worked on the RAF base close to where they lived.  

Michael and Betty were married on January 6, 1962

Michael and Betty were married on January 6, 1962 - Credit: Watkins family

The pair began their married life in Suffolk, first moving to Tangham in Rendlesham forest, which at the time housed RAF Woodbridge. 

Michaela continues: “They were literally at the end of a runway, where the caravan site is now. Dad got a job working for the Forestry Commission, and mum was a nanny to an American couple at the base.” 

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The couple welcomed welcomed their own child, Andrew in 1964, and Michaela followed in 1965. 

The family moved to Sudbourne, then Woodbridge. Mr Watkins had stopped working for the Forestry Commission, and was by this stage worked on building sites. 

“With a bit of help from a few other people, he actually built our house in Woodbridge,” says Michaela proudly. 

Both Betty and Michael were born in Norfolk, but moved to Suffolk to begin their married life together

Both Betty and Michael were born in Norfolk, but moved to Suffolk to begin their married life together - Credit: Watkins family

The father-of-two changed jobs again, becoming a self-employed tree surgeon. While Mrs Watkins worked various part-time jobs, but found her calling after a chance visit to the Redwings Horse Sanctuary in Norfolk.  

“She thought they did such brilliant work with horses, and she wanted to raise a bit of money for them, doing garden sales and car boots. It started as a hobby, but she’s kept on doing it for over 30 years, Dad helping, and she still wants to carry on.  

“She’s raised over £42,000 in total. 

“Mum and Dad will do anything for anybody. They’re very supportive, and everyone in the family knows they can always go to them with a problem.” 

The couple have five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. 

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