Lifelong sweethearts in their 90s celebrated their 71st anniversary by renewing their wedding blessings, after battling through months of separation over the last year due to the pandemic.
Monica Cobbett, 92, and husband Fred, who will be 97 in July, exchanged their “I wills” for the second time in his Kings Lodge care home in West Byfleet, Woking, on Thursday.
The couple, who say they are as in love as the day they first married, said: “It was a wonderful day that took us back.”
The ceremony was conducted in the care home’s garden by Reverend John McCabe from St Mary’s Church, Byfleet, surrounded by 12 of their family and friends, and also fellow care home residents.
Mr Cobbett, who was emotional during the day, later gave his wife a gift of homegrown flowers and a necklace with preserved roses inside.
On the secret to a long marriage, Mrs Cobbett said: “Probably me being in charge, you know where you’re going.”
Mrs Cobbett is known as a thrill seeker and for her 90th birthday she was gifted a freefall skydive by her daughter, which she said was “great” and that “it was nice to have a young man on my back, that won’t happen again”.
Covid-19 restrictions on care homes meant Mrs Cobbett was unable to visit her husband for five months, which deeply distressed him as it was the first time they had been separated during their marriage, but now they are able see each other once a week.
Mrs Cobbett said: “It was lovely when I could see him again, I could give him a big hug.
“It’s a different world now and I think you have to go along with it, I’m sure this won’t last forever. We’ll soon all be back together again.”
Their only child, Sarah Tarling, also celebrated her 43rd anniversary with her husband Keith on the same day.
When asked about her parents’ relationship, she added: “Mum is the driving force, but dad often does what he wants, so I suspect it’s opposites – they attract and keep each other going.”
The couple met in Horsell, Woking, when they used to cycle by each other in opposite directions on their lunch break when Monica was aged 16 and Fred was 21.
One day during a rainstorm they both stopped under the Victoria Arch in Woking and Fred asked her out.
They married in 1950 in Christ Church, Woking, at 21 and 26 surrounding by their families. They even kept a tier of their wedding cake for four years and used it at their daughter’s christening.
Mr Cobbett served in the Navy in the Second World War, and when he returned home he worked as a nurseryman in his grandfather’s plant nursery, while Mrs Cobbett worked as a solicitor’s secretary.
Mr Cobbett is still a keen gardener and tends to a greenhouse at the care home, including growing the roses for Monica’s bouquet for the renewal ceremony.
Mrs Cobbett’s sister Sue North, who was a bridesmaid on the original day, said: “In this day and age, it really is a great achievement, and I think we’re so blessed that they’re both still here.”
Morrisons Weybridge donated the cake and decorations as part of their Community Champion project.