Diamond wedding: Sun still shining on Peter and Kath Scarlett after 60 years of marriage
It was a beautiful, crisp winter's morning at Christmas 62 years ago when Peter Scarlett proposed to his teenage sweetheart, Kath – and "the sun has been shining ever since".
Two years later they were married – and the Bishop's Stortford couple have just celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary.
Peter, 82, said that he would never forget the moment he asked Kath to marry him.
"I remember it very clearly. It was on a park bench in front of King's College Chapel in Cambridge with the River Cam beside us on Boxing Day in 1957," he said.
"It was a beautiful sunny morning with clear blue skies – I'll never forget it. And she said yes straight away!"
Both grew up in Cambridge and attended The Perse boys' and girls' schools. They met for the first time at a newly introduced dance class.
Kath recalled: "We were both Cambridge born and bred, and it was the first year that they had these ballroom dancing classes for the lower sixth and we met there. I was 16 and he was 17." Peter added: "Given the chance we still dance."
After school, Peter spent a year working for the Bank of England before National Service while Kath attended teacher training college. They both returned to work in London and moved to Bishop's Stortford when they married in December 1959 as it was halfway between London and Cambridge where their parents lived.
So what is the secret to 60 happy years together? Kath said: "A lot of luck, and we have both tried to keep busy all our lives and keep up with what's happening with young people – it keeps you young! But we've both been very lucky."
And keeping busy is certainly something the Scarletts are known for in the community.
Peter is a stalwart of Bishop's Stortford Rugby Football Club and reaches his 60-year milestone with them in 2020, having served as captain and chairman over the years. "He doesn't play any more, of course, but still reckons he has one game left in him!" joked Kath.
He enjoyed a successful career with the Bank of England, working from its Loughton print works and ending up as head of the engineering division, responsible for the team running the building's maintenance and security and ensuring all the print work machinery ran smoothly.
"I had an extremely good career," said Peter. I spent some time initially at head office in London and was lucky enough to finish up still working for the bank and was head of training at one time. Not bad for someone who left school with a few O-levels, and it was a great place to work."
Peter is also a co-founder of Bishop's Stortford Methodist Church-based employment support charity Kickstart, which in 2019 celebrated its 25th anniversary.
"We set it up in 1994 and have had 11,500 attendances since it opened, helping people to get back into work, all for free," he said.
"I'm also a member of Rotary and have thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a lovely community activity and I've had the privilege of being president."
Kath was a primary school teacher, first in Harlow before she left to have children and returning as a supply teacher at All Saints in Parsonage Lane, Stortford. The couple have two daughters, Debbie and Caroline, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
They spent a month visiting Debbie and her husband, David, on Australia's Sunshine Coast in October, which formed part of their diamond wedding celebrations. Caroline and her husband, Chris, who live in Chatham, Kent, and their two grown-up sons, Jonathan and Stephen, joined Peter and Kath for Christmas.
The Scarletts' 60th wedding anniversary was on Thursday December 19. They celebrated the occasion two days later with a special dinner at their Oaklands Park home with family and close friends.