Peter and Sheila Mason.
Peter and Sheila Mason.

Married 50 years ago - four weddings and a party

THE year is 1966. Transistor radios are playing hits like The Beatles' "She Loves You," Cilla Black is soaring up the charts with "You're My World" and, while the song hasn't been written yet, "Love Is in the Air" for eight young newlyweds.

Flash forward 50 years and it is clear the love is still there for the same four couples as they celebrate their combined golden wedding anniversary years with lunch in a Noosa restaurant last month.

Considering the average Australian marriage lasts 12.1 years (Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics) you could say being married for 50 years is, well, a rarity.

Certainly, the Governor General and Prime Minister think so. Let them know and they will send messages of congratulation and an enthusiastic media will also hail the happy couple with a photo and story.

So what are the qualities that underpin a partnership that lasts 50 years? While the champagne flowed, Seniors spoke to the happy partygoers who have been friends for some years.

 

Left to right: Sheila Mason, Peter Mason, Guy Wannop, Sheelagh Wannop, Jeni Webb,Tim Webb, Wendy Ruttan, Doug Ruttan.
Left to right: Sheila Mason, Peter Mason, Guy Wannop, Sheelagh Wannop, Jeni Webb,Tim Webb, Wendy Ruttan, Doug Ruttan.

Sheila Mason from Derbyshire married Peter, an Australian journalist, in Avondale, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) on February 19, 1966. For the next 40 years or so they lived in that country, South Africa and the UK before coming to the Sunshine Coast in 2001.

They are now in Noosa and have two children and four grandchildren

Sheila believes many marriages don't last because "people give up at the first hurdle. You've got to be prepared to jump the hurdle and say, 'Look, I've learned something. I've fallen down but I'm getting up and if another hurdle comes I'll just jump that as well.'"

She laughed, "Anyway, I've always believed in the old saying, 'Better the devil you know than the one you don't."

Doug and Wendy Ruttan were married on March 26, 1966. Doug, an IT specialist from Vancouver, came to Australia in1964 and met Wendy in Sydney. They have two sons and two grandchildren and spent most of their lives on Sydney's Northern Beaches. They moved to Noosa in 2002 and live at Sunshine Beach.

 

Doug and Wendy Ruttan.
Doug and Wendy Ruttan.

Wendy was 20 and Doug was 26 when they married. She believes people who marry at a young age can change and grow apart. "There's a certain amount of luck in having a lasting relationship. People say, 'You can be happy with a boring life' but we've never considered ours to be boring."

Sheelagh and Guy Wannop were married in London on June 11, 1966. They lived in Rhodesia, South Africa and the U.S. before coming to Australia in 1997. Sheelagh is a former professional actress and Guy a retired engineer. They live in Noosa and have three daughters and eight grandchildren.

Sheelagh agreed with Wendy that luck was a factor. "Marriage has its ups and downs but, basically, it is love and caring for each other."

Tim and Jeni Webb were married in Zimbabwe on April 23, 1966. They have two children and two grandchildren. Tim ran the family auto electric business and, after the family grew up, Jeni joined him at the company. They came to the Sunshine Coast 15 years ago and now live at Bribie Island.

 

Tim and Jeni Webb.
Tim and Jeni Webb.

Jeni believes respect and friendship is vital. "You fall in love, you get married and I think it is the lasting friendship that gets you through the tough times.

"We've had a great number of adventures that still keep us warm in the remembering and runs deep in our souls."

As the four wives had done all the talking, Seniors asked Tim for a male opinion.

"I just walk three steps behind and keep nodding my head," he said.

 


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