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Gillingham couple Jack and Hilda Graham still sharing a cuddle every night after almost 80 years

By Jenni Horn

When Jack Graham started talking to a nice girl outside Woolworths, he never imagined they would still be together almost 80 years later.

Hilda Lewing was shopping in Chatham High Street with her cousin - but just window shopping because she "didn't have any money" - while Jack was with his friends.

Three years after being introduced, the pair were married at Chatham Register Office and now they are celebrating their 75th wedding anniversary.

Jack and Hilda Graham are celebrating 75 years of marriage

Having celebrated their golden wedding in 1989 and then diamond and platinum milestones for 60 and 70 years respectively, it seems their achievement is so rare there is not a gemstone or precious metal allocated to 75.

Even more remarkable is the fact Mr and Mrs Graham live in the house where Mr Graham was born and has spent all of his 98 years – in May Road, Gillingham.

This has prompted his wife, 93, to joke that she has never had a house of her own.

During their time courting, they enjoyed trips to the Empire Theatre in Chatham and - despite his future bride only being 15 when they started dating - Mr Graham would take her to the pub.

Jack and Hilda photographed in 1940, the year after they married

He said: "Hilda was living in Higham so we used to meet along The Esplanade and go in a pub down there. Hilda was too young, so they used to let us in around the back."

The pair married on June 3, 1939, with their fathers William and Walter as their only guests. They didn't have any kind of reception or a cake, and don't even have any photos from the day.

The newlyweds couldn't afford a proper honeymoon – instead they enjoyed a weekend camping trip in Minster with their friends.

Mrs Graham said: "We didn't have any money for a honeymoon and Jack had to be back at work on Monday morning."

Mr Graham worked for 45 years as an electrical fitter at Chatham Dockyard, while Mrs Graham, who had a job in the kitchen at Gad's Hill school before they married, gave up work after saying 'I do' to become a full-time wife and mother.

The Grahams outside the Gillingham house Jack has lived in all his life

They went on to have two children - daughters Jill, 74, and 70-year-old Christine - seven grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren.

After Mr Graham retired at 60, the couple made up for their short honeymoon by holidaying all over the UK on coach trips. Their other passion was line-dancing, but nowadays they enjoy quiet nights in front of the telly watching their favourite soaps and games shows - anything, Mrs Graham said, "to get your brain working".

Some would say the secret to a good marriage is never going to bed on an argument, but Mr and Mrs Graham have never even had a row.

News from the couple's wedding day:

Last public guillotining in France

Siam changes its name to Thailand

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visit New York

Jackie Stewart, motor racing champion, is born

Popular songs: Run, rabbit run; You must have been a beautiful baby

Mr Graham, a lifelong Gillingham FC fan, said: "We have never argued. You get differences of opinion but we just agree to disagree."

And can they offer any other advice to newlyweds?

"Give her a cuddle at night," Mr Graham revealed. "And look after each other."

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