70 years of wedded bliss
PUBLISHED: 10:03 25 March 2013 | UPDATED: 10:03 25 March 2013
A Littleham couple will celebrate 70 years of marriage tomorrow (Friday) with a family celebration.
Leonard Collins, 90, and his wife Violet, 88, of Salterton Road, mark their platinum wedding anniversary 71 years after meeting while queuing to see a film at the Savoy Cinema in Exmouth.
“I can’t remember what film it was,” said Leonard.
Then he added with a laugh: “It was because I couldn’t take my eyes off Violet!”
Both were born in Exmouth, Leonard at Belmont Terrace and Violet at Halsdon Road.
Leonard, then 20, had joined the RAF to assemble airframes, and after a year they married at Withycombe parish church on Monday, March 22, 1943.
Just two days later Leonard was shipped off to India - and they didn’t see each other again for three-and-a-half years.
“He wrote every single day while he was in India,” she remembers.
But it was difficult - because of the war he wasn’t allowed to tell her what he was doing, where he was and neither knew when he would be coming back.
While Leonard was in India Violet lived with his mum in Albion Street, and did her bit for the war effort by making parachutes at a factory in Alphington.
One night before they were married, while she was working in the factory, she spent the night in an air raid shelter: “It was the night of the Exeter Blitz. We woke to find the city in ruins – everything had stopped, no trains and no buses.”
Violet later helped the bus service to keep going as a bus conductor.
Then one day in 1947 Leonard knocked on the door: “I just didn’t recognize him,” she said. “He was a stranger.”
But then after only a few days the RAF said they needed him elsewhere: “I refused to go. I had seen Violet for just a few days in three years. They were sympathetic and extended my leave.”
After the war Leonard worked as a builder’s merchant and then for the NHS while Violet brought up two sons and a daughter. They also have seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
When asked the secret of a successful marriage Leonard said: “You sometimes just have to agree to disagree.”
Violet said: “It’s too easy for couples these days, they just split and don’t work at it.”