Valentine’s competition winners

Thank you for sending us pictures of what warms your heart for our Valentine’s Day competition.

Winners: Mary and Rodney from Reading Reading residents Mary and Rodney sitting together

Congratulations to Reading residents Mary, 81, and Rodney, 80, who won a hamper full of treats for sending us their love story. The couple have been married for nearly 55 years and first met in 1949. Here’s their love story…

Mary and Rodney first met at Rodney’s cousin Gwen’s 21st birthday party. From the first time he first saw Mary, Rodney knew his heart belonged to her. But Mary, who was 16-years-old at the time was not interested in Rodney as he was just a 14-year-old schoolboy.

A few years later Gwen was hosting another gathering and invited Mary and Rodney to stay with her for the weekend. After travelling on the same train, the couple’s friendship first bloomed.

Rodney fondly remembers the long steam train journey, which lasted an hour and a half. They talked about Mary’s job (she cared for two children), her trip to Lebanon and her new job based in Iraq.

A few years then passed and Mary had started working in a hospital in Scotland. Rodney got her new address from Gwen and started to write to her daily. He would post his letter at 7pm and it would arrive in Scotland in the morning – just as Mary had finished her shift in the hospital.

From those letters Mary’s affections for Rodney grew, the couple fell in love and soon got engaged. Mary said: “Rodney proposed to me whilst sitting on a stump of a tree at the River Wye. We then carved our names on the tree to mark our love.”

In November 1960 the couple married in St Ives, Huntingdon and in 1967 they moved to Reading where they lived in the same house for 47 years. In June 2014, they moved to Oak Tree House, a Catalyst extra-care scheme in Reading and after 54 years there love is still as strong.

“When I see Mary and Rodney, the love between them is evident. They are happy to do things together and also happy to do things separately”, says Micheal Morgan, scheme manager at Oak Tree House.

So what’s the couple’s favourite memory of each other? Rodney couldn’t decide as “there are too many to choose from”.  Mary’s favourite memory doesn’t exactly involve Rodney, but a man with the initial R. “Before I got married, I went to see a fortune teller and asked her about finding love. She said there would be a few men in my life but I would marry a man with the initial R!”

Mary and Rodney have been married for over half a century, so what’s the secret of having such a long, loving marriage? “Give and take is the key” the couple reply together. “One must not be selfish” adds Rodney. Mary felt it was fate that bought her and Rodney together – she had no interest in Rodney at first,  love grew and they are still in love with each other to this day.