Sweethearts met at party over 60 years ago
THEY married on the most romantic day of the year – but only after fate intervened twice to delay their plans.
Today, as thousands of people across the Bristol area look for Valentine's Day messages, Brian and Doreen Lealan will be opening cards congratulating them on their diamond wedding anniversary.
The couple, who live in Coalpit Heath, first met at a Christmas party for chemical and tar company William Butlers. Brian worked the firm's plant in Crews Hole Road, St George, while Doreen was at the company's head office in St Philip's.
By the next Christmas party, in 1952, when Mr Lealan, who lived in Kingswood, was 20 and his sweetheart, who lived in St George, was 17 they announced their engagement before he went into the Army.
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Doreen, now 78, said: "My father said that we could get married when Brian had his first leave, which we thought would be in the June or July. But he ended up in hospital in Aldershot with pneumonia, so couldn't get home that time.
"We started planning the wedding for his next leave, and set the date for February 7. I had everything arranged but on February 5 he rang to tell me his leave had been delayed by a week. I had to rearrange everything but decided we would be married on Valentine's Day – February 14."
Luckily Brian made it home that time and the pair were married at Kingswood Church.
They lived in a council house in Kingswood for eight years before moving to their current home, where they have lived for nearly 50 years.
They had three daughters – Jackie, now 58; Sandra, now 54; and Tracie, now 47, who have given them seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
"We have always loved each other, and respected each other for who we are," said Brian, now 81.
"We are celebrating our anniversary with a big family meal at the local pub and are looking forward to a Caribbean cruise in a few weeks' time."