Why Lewis was glad he didn't get first choice
A BRISTOL couple who met as a soldier and a nanny in a German town are celebrating 60 years together.
Lewis Gray, now 85, was stationed with the army in Minden, in West Germany, during 1951.
He had been sent there with another corporal to prepare the company commander's house before the rest of the regiment, the Green Howards, arrived.
He and the other soldier, a Corporal Hale, had been given two tickets each to watch the Ivy Benson band, who were playing in Minden.
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Corporal Hale had decided he would take the maid, who was very attractive, and Mr Gray was left with the cook, who was in her 50s.
On the day of the show they arrived outside the company commander's house to collect their dates – but instead of the cook, it was the commander's nanny, called Mair, who explained the cook wasn't feeling well.
Corporal Hale took one look and said: "I'll have that one," while Mr Gray replied: "Not likely, you had first choice, she's mine."
After that the pair began dating and on Valentine's Day in 1952, a leap year, Mair asked Mr Gray to marry her. The couple married on September 27, 1952 and after a short honeymoon in South Wales, Mr Gray returned to Germany to find he had been promoted to Sergeant.
After he left the army in January 1953 the pair settled in Filton, where Mr Gray worked at Bristol Aeroplane Company (BAC) for 22 years.
Mrs Gray worked at Rolls-Royce in Patchway and later Hortham Hospital. Mr Gray was interested in politics and soon elected as a Labour councillor on Patchway Parish Council, now Patchway Town Council. He remained on it for 54 years, serving as mayor for nine years.
He was also a magistrate for 20 years, serving on Thornbury and then North Avon benches.
When asked the secret of a long marriage, Mr Gray, of Coniston Road, Patchway, said: "First, a good sense of humour, and don't be afraid to have a good old argument.
"We have lots but I always get round Mair by whispering those three magic words 'you're right dear'."
The pair will celebrate with their two sons and their families, including six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.