Romantics getting set for Valentine’s Day may wish to heed a word of advice from a couple who have plenty of experience in this field – 75 years to be exact.
Devoted James and Cecelia Marsh are set to celebrate their 75th Valentine’s Day together as a married couple – at the age of 95.
The lovebirds were first introduced as teens by Cecelia’s youngest brother Bill, who befriended James when they lived nearby in south London in the early 1940s.
They tied the knot in December 1943, with James riding his beloved Ariel Red Hunter motorcycle back from his job as a ‘Bevin Boy’ in the Welsh mines to marry his sweetheart.
Today the couple live at Bupa Abbotsleigh Mews care home in Sidcup, where the staff make sure they’re still able to spend time together.
As they prepare for their 75th Valentine’s Day together, Cecilia puts their lifelong love down to “communication” and the fact they always “worked together” to iron out any problems.
She added: “I never thought James and I would still be together after all this time.
“Especially after he was called up to the mines during the war – he had no option, he was going whether we liked it or not.”
Cecelia said: “As a young man, he was very smart – it’s something he’s always been known for.
“Even after 75 years, he’s still the same man I married and we’re as in love today as we were on our wedding day.
“And because we were married on Christmas Day, it’s always been easy to remember the date.
“We’ve always worked together with whatever we’ve done. We even used to ride a tandem bicycle.”
James and Cecelia, who celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary on Christmas Day 2018, also credit having a large family for maintaining a loving relationship after nearly eight decades.
Bupa is planning a special Valentine’s Day meal to celebrate their milestone year together.
Cecelia and James getting married on Christmas Day, 1943
Recounting the couple’s view on finances, Cecelia explained how they lived through a more frugal era and that they’d only ever buy one item at a time on credit.
She added: “But that said, if we wanted to buy something, you didn’t mind going out and spending money, did you James!”
Quick as a flash, James retorted: “Yes, and now I’m skint!” with a twinkle in his eye – showing that even though dementia may be slowing him down, his wit is still as keen as ever.
As the duo fussed over one another, thoughts turned to the upcoming Valentine’s Day celebration.
Cecelia said: “We don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day in a big way. We used to – flowers, chocolates, that kind of thing.
“We have made homemade cards for each other this year though with help from the staff.”
In addition to helping the couple make cards, colleagues at the care home have also planted a rose bush in the grounds to commemorate the pair’s anniversary.
Home manager at Bupa Abbotsleigh Mews, Tracey Cheeseman added: “Jim and Ciss really are an inspirational couple – even after 75 years married, you can tell there’s still a spark.
“While Jim’s dementia means he receives specialist care in another wing of the home, we still make sure they spend time together.
“It’s heart-warming to watch their relationship continue to grow even after all these years, and so we all wanted to do something special to mark the occasion.”
Now, the pair pass their time by chatting and eating meals together, while in days gone by the also used to enjoy puzzles.