Bishop's Stortford couple Ray and Sheila Whyard celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary
A mistaken smile from a "beautiful young lady" was the moment former Bishop's Stortford High School head of art Ray Whyard met his wife-to-be – and now the couple have just marked 60 years of marriage.
Ray and Sheila, both 82, of Meadowlands in Stortford, recalled the day in 1955 that brought them together. They wed five years later, on June 4, 1960, after Ray had carried out military service.
"I was a member of St John Ambulance brigade and had been teaching a group of London Transport workers," said Ray. "Near to where I lived in Hatfield there was a cricket club celebration and my family bullied me into going. When I walked in, the man I'd been teaching was standing at the bar.
"I walked over and he offered me a drink, and then this beautiful young lady walked in and I thought she was smiling at me.
"I said to the man, 'I'm going to be all right!' But she wasn't smiling at me. She was smiling at the man I was with, Ted – who was actually her father!"
The couple moved firstly to Plaw Hatch Close in Stortford in September 1960 and then Meadowlands. Ray went on to teach at TBSHS, where he stayed for 33 years, becoming head of art, design and graphic design.
His passion for painting is evident throughout the area. His works of art feature in Jackson Square and the Port Jackson pub in Stortford, as well as Marriott Hanbury Manor Hotel in Thundridge, near Ware, and Brocket Hall at Lemsford, near Welwyn Garden City.
Sheila raised their two sons, Derek and Adrian, and went on to work in a secretarial role at the former Booker food wholesaler in Dunmow Road. They have two grandchildren, Lucy and Arran.
Unable to celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary with a party, the couple were treated to gifts from family and a dinner for two at home. "We had a beautiful hydrangea in a pot, chocolates and Prosecco – we celebrated in style!"
And their secret to a happy marriage? "It's about respecting each other," said Ray. "I always made sure Sheila had her own bank account – I thought that was very important."