East Preston couple celebrate their diamond date

Diamond duo Maurice Ludlam, 80, with wife Betty, 80, L35117H13
Diamond duo Maurice Ludlam, 80, with wife Betty, 80, L35117H13

WHEN Betty and Maurice Ludlam first tied the knot they had no idea how long they would be together.

And on Thursday (August 22), the East Preston couple seemed just as taken aback that they were celebrating six decades of marriage.

Looking back, Betty, 80, said: “It’s a surprise, I guess. When were first got together we never really thought of how long we would stay married for.

“It’s just not something that you tend to think about. But it’s been a lovely 60 years.”

Maurice and Betty, who now live at Old Worthing Road, first met at the Streat and Meston Social Club, in Streat, near Hassocks in East Sussex.

Betty instantly fell for Maurice, who at the time was the secretary of the club.

Little more than nine months after first courting, the couple were married.

“It wasn’t long at all after we met that we married,” said Betty. “We both loved each other and it felt like the right thing to do.”

Maurice, now 80, worked as a dairyman at a farm in Streat. The couple soon had children, raising five youngsters before moving to Storrington and then to Arundel, where Maurice was a head dairyman for the Duke of Norfolk.

He worked at Cricket Hill Farm, in London Road – where the family home was, at the time – before then working at the first automated milking parlour in West Sussex, at Offham, just outside Arundel.

Daughter Wendy Rockliffe fondly remembers her mum ‘mucking in’ where she could when extra help was needed to raise orphaned animals on the Norfolk Estate, all while raising her own children.

In the 1960s the family moved to Rustington after Maurice slipped on some ice, while carrying milk, and injured his back.

It was here many people will best know them.

Betty founded both the 4th Rustington Brownies – which recently celebrated its 40th anniversary – as well as the 4th Rustington Guides.

Maurice became the secretary and later the chairman of the Rustington Wine Circle, staying as a member for several years, before joining the Rustington Camera Club, which they still attend.

They both worked at the Roundstone Garden Centre, now Haskins, for 20 years.

About 26 years ago they moved into East Preston and became prolific fundraisers for St Barnabas House hospice, in Worthing.

Betty explained that her mother, Ivy, had died at the hospice. “We just wanted to give something back to the hospice for all the work and care they gave my mum,” she added.

The couple held numerous open gardens and raffles, raising about £4,000 for the hospice.

The pair both enjoy gardening and playing a quick few games of table tennis.

They have nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild.