Diamond couple’s charity gesture

An Exmouth couple have celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary by raising funds for charity.

Ivan Downing, 81, and his wife, Barbara, 78, held a party at the Police Club, Exmouth, to raise money for Ataxia UK, a charity which fights a neurological disorder, which affects their granddaughter, Becky Downing.

The couple asked for donations to the charity instead of anniversary gifts - and raised �300 from the 80 guests who attended.

The couple first met when 16 year-old Barbara went camping with the Girls’ Training Corps.

She said: “I was walking to the camp and Ivan was on the other side of the road.

“He shouted, “Hello, gorgeous” at me. I just grinned and walked on, because I was very shy.

“I later found out he was at the same camp, and he’d tied his tent to a ‘No Camping’ tree!”

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The couple had a whirlwind romance and were engaged a year later, with the wedding taking place the following year at St Luke’s Church in Countess Wear.

Ivan went on to work as a heavy plant operator and Barbara worked as a nurse.

They spent most of their lives in Exeter and moved to Exmouth around 13 years ago.

They have three children - Kevin, 56, Rachel, 42, and Charlotte, 38 – six grandchildren and a great grandchild due in November.

Asked why the marriage had lasted for 60 years, Barbara said: “It’s about having a sense of humour. I can’t say we’ve never had any fall-outs, but we’ve never sulked.

“We always make sure we have a cup of tea after we’ve had a moan.”