Care home turns platinum for a joint celebration

Dr Victor and Norma Harrison celebrate their 71st wedding anniversary on September 17, 2017. They were married in 1946.
Dr Victor and Norma Harrison celebrate their 71st wedding anniversary on September 17, 2017. They were married in 1946.

The Royal Hampton care home in Ponteland put on a sparkling celebration for two devoted couples celebrating 141 years of marriage between them on the same day.

It was the platinum wedding anniversary for John and Mary Southwell, while Dr Victor and Norma Harrison were celebrating 71 years as a married couple.

John and Mary Southwell, right, celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary (platinum) with family. They were married on September 17, 1947.

John and Mary Southwell, right, celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary (platinum) with family. They were married on September 17, 1947.

Both couples, all residents at the home, enjoyed the occasion with family, friends and their fellow residents.

John and Mary Southwell met on a blind date while they were both working for the LMS in Crewe.

After they were married in 1947, John took up a post as a lecturer at Wolverhampton Technical College.

In 1956, John, Mary and their three-year-old daughter Victoria went to Ghana, where John had a lecturing post in mechanical engineering at Kwame Nkrumah University in Kumasi. Their second daughter, Sarah, was born during this time.

John and Mary Southwell on their wedding day on September 17, 1947.

John and Mary Southwell on their wedding day on September 17, 1947.

After a brief spell at home in the 60s lecturing at Rutherford College of Technology (now part of the University of Northumbria) and living in Ponteland, John went overseas again to work at Singapore Polytechnic.

Leaving Singapore in 1970, he worked for the British Government – the Ministry of Overseas Development – advising on technical education in Burma, followed by postings to Nigeria, Jordan and other Middle East countries.

In 1976, John was awarded the OBE for services to technical education in Burma.

Mary accompanied John on all his postings and was a great support.

Victor and Norma Harrison on their wedding day on September 17, 1946.

Victor and Norma Harrison on their wedding day on September 17, 1946.

Victor and Norma Harrison met when Victor, a successful young medical student, asked a vivacious young lady out for lunch.

She had no hesitation in accepting.

After they were married in Gateshead in 1946, the following two years were spent in Germany, where Victor was an officer in the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) – attached to the Guards Regiment.

They then came back to South Shields, where Victor took up the mantle of following his father as GP in the family Tyne Dock practice.

Not only was the GP role very different in the 50s and 60s from today, but that of the GP’s wife was very different too.

Victor and Norma had three children – Nigel, Victoria and Vanessa.

Their life together has been described as always a close togetherness, everything was a team effort.

Lara Masucci, home manager at Royal Hampton, said: “We’re really delighted to share this story.

“We like to make all our residents feel at home by keeping to any traditions they have and taking the time to celebrate special occasions, birthdays and anniversaries.”