A local couple celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary last week, evoking memories from their big day in 1958.
Henry (Harry) and Elizabeth (Lily) Johnston from Ballyclare, received a card from the Queen to commemorate the occasion on August 22.
They married in Carnmoney Presbyterian Church and had their reception in the Barron Hall in Glengormley. Their Honeymoon was spent in Whitby, Yorkshire.
Harry was from Portadown and Lily (nee McMeekin) grew up on the Ballyclare Road, Glengormley.
They started off as pen friends when Harry was in the 12th Royal Lancers in Malaya.
Speaking to the Times, Lily said: “I placed an advert in Ireland’s Saturday Night newspaper asking for pen friends preferably of Ulster birth. It was from here that we first made contact with each other.
“We ended up writing to each other for over three years. It wasn’t anything romantic, with Harry always ending his letters with ‘your friend, Harry xx’
“We met up in Belfast when he was home on leave and fell in love pretty soon.
“ The love letters began when he returned to Bovington Camp and I still have every letter I received. Harry was a very good footballer, he played for Portadown and Cliftonville Olympic and had been on the books of a club in England.
He even played at the Soccer Shed in Ballyclare when he was in his 70s for a Muckamore Presbyterian Church side, with a lot of people amazed at how he was still playing.”
Lily added: “We have three children and three grandchildren and have been very fortunate. I am thankful for my health and still love getting out and meeting people. Harry has had a number of health issues in recent years, but is staying positive. During this time we found help by praying and being prayed for. Unfortunately Harry has had a recent hospital admission but we are all hoping he will be home shortly.
“We have received many well wishes in recent days about our anniversary and I’d like to thank everyone for their kind gifts and words.”
Family including a son and granddaughter from Australia joined the couple recently for dinner at Corr’s Corner Hotel, where they celebrated with a cake decorated with a picture from their wedding day.
They also received a special Diamond Anniversary Rose from the family, which Lily says will be beautiful when it flowers.