FRIENDS who penned letters to each other before they met have celebrated 60 years of wedded bliss.
Mary and Ray Lewis, of Well Street, Langham, marked their diamond wedding on Thursday last week with a meal at Hambleton Hall with their three children.
Mary said: “The children asked us to keep between midday and 4pm free and they took us to there as a surprise.
“It was absolutely lovely and we had a wonderful day.”
The pair also invited friends and neighbours enjoy drinks and nibbles with them in the evening and received dozens of cards and a collage of photographs. Among the cards was one from the Queen which Mary said they had received after “dropping lots of hints”.
Ray, who was originally from Empingham, and Mary, from Wiltshire, married at Christian Malford Church in Wiltshire on March 3, 1951.
The couple were put in touch by a cousin of Ray’s, who also knew Mary and asked if she would write to a “lonely sailor”.
Mary sent a Christmas card to Ray in 1948 and they exchanged letters for eight months, until Ray returned from the Royal Navy in August 1949, where he had served on HMS Duke of York.
Mary said: “We wrote to each other before we even met and when we met, it just went from there.”
After getting married, they moved to Stamford where Ray worked as an electrician and Mary worked as a secretary at Newage, now called Cummins Generator Technologies.
They moved to Oakham in 1954 and then to Langham two years later where they have lived since.
Ray later worked at Ashwell Prison as a trades officer until his retirement.
He joked: “After 60 years together, I think I’m eligible for parole!”
The couple, who are both 82, have three children Christine Sentance, 55, of Stamford, Michael, 52, who lives in Manchester and Pauline Morgan, 41, who lives in Oakham.
They also have four grandchildren Jade Morgan, 17, Erin Morgan, 15, and Isobel and Sian Lewis, both 14.
Ray said the secret to a long and successful marriage was give and take.
He added: “Of course we have had words over the years - no marriage is perfect - but we tried to never let it last more than a day.”
Mary said the secret was mutual love and respect. The couple also both enjoy the same things, including gardening and caravanning. Since retiring they have gone further afield and enjoyed holidays abroad, in particular the West Indies.
The family will also be celebrating with a party at the Horseshoe in Oakham.