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Sheppey couple Derek and Kath Friday look back on first meeting after 60 years of marriage

By John Nurden

It was the number 26 bus which put Sheppey couple Derek and Kath Friday on the road to marriage.

Sixty years later they are still together and have just celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary with a bash in their barn and a greetings card from Her Majesty.

Derek, 81, recalled: “I lived in Newington and we both went to the Young People’s Fellowship youth club in the village school.

Kath and Derek Friday celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary
Kath and Derek Friday celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary

"I was going to night school and arrived back in the village on the 26 bus just as she was catching it to go back home.

"I thought she was a nice-looking girl and suggested I walk her home."

The couple married at Newington church on July 11, 1959.

Derek had been called up for National Service with the Royal Artillery and managed to get eight days leave for the wedding and honeymoon at Butlin’s Cliftonville before being posted to Germany.

He said: "I got home on the Friday. There wasn’t even time for a stag night or a wedding rehearsal.

Derek and Kath Friday at Newington Church on July 11, 1959
Derek and Kath Friday at Newington Church on July 11, 1959

"I just walked down the lane to the church with my best man Tim Phipps on the Saturday and hoped the bride would be there at 3pm."

Kath made it with her twin sister Sheila, who now lives in Lancashire, as bridesmaid.

Kath and Derek went on to have four children, Dawn, Mark, Helen and Jeremy and now have seven grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

Both Tim and Sheila were guests at the anniversary party on Saturday, July 13, at the couple’s home in Eastchurch Road, Chequers along with 70 friends and family.

Among them were the couple’s eldest son Mark, who lives in Austria, and their grandson Ryan Hill and his wife Emily who flew in from Australia on honeymoon.

Family gathering to mark the couple's diamond wedding anniversary
Family gathering to mark the couple's diamond wedding anniversary

After Derek was demobbed, the apprenticed bricklayer set up his own building firm.

The natural entertainer also helped form the Newington Concert Party which is still going strong 59 years later.

He was later asked to help at the Sheppey Little Theatre where he is chairman.

Kath, 79, was a secretary at Sittingbourne Paper Mill before becoming a mum.

She is now involved in the Island’s horse community.

Read more: All the latest news from the Isle of Sheppey

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