Com­mu­nity thanked for 50 years

South Waikato News - - NEWS - By PET­RICE TAR­RANT

Cliche terms such as ‘‘ com­pro­mise’’ def­i­nitely come into play when you’re talk­ing a long and happy mar­riage.

But Heather and Brian Wil­liamson agree that cel­e­brat­ing 50 years is as much a credit to their car­ing com­mu­nity as it is to their lov­ing re­la­tion­ship.

It has been about oth­ers since the sporty cou­ple said ‘‘I do’’ in a small Pu­taruru church in 1964.

There is clearly a spe­cial con­nec­tion be­tween the school teacher and for­mer mill worker, but it is not the love story you would watch on tele­vi­sion.

‘‘I can’t even re­mem­ber how he pro­posed,’’ Heather said.

To which Brian re­sponded: ‘‘It was prob­a­bly in a car go­ing home some­where.’’

They raised three chil­dren of their own but the Wil­liamson legacy trav­els far fur­ther than that.

And it is not be­cause Heather reached New Zealand sta­tus as an um­pire or even that Brian was a world cham­pion shearer.

The cou­ple’s com­mu­nity spirit trumps any in­di­vid­ual achieve­ment – and there have cer­tainly been a few.

‘‘Our home was a home for ev­ery­body. I call ev­ery­one kids, even if they’re 50, be­cause we’ve had them in our home,’’ Heather said.

So it is no won­der that past stu­dents or­gan­ised a for­mal cel­e­bra­tion at the South Waikato Sports and Events Cen­tre, draw­ing an im­pres­sive crowd to say the least.

But rather than glo­ri­fy­ing the an­niver­sary as some­thing they have ac­com­plished as a cou­ple, both said it was more like a thank you to all those who have helped pull them through.

‘‘All fam­i­lies have their hard times,’’ Heather said.

Sur­viv­ing mul­ti­ple strikes at the Kin­leith Mill and more trag­i­cally, los­ing their son four years ago, were two of their tough­est.

‘‘What hap­pened [when their son died] was the whole of the South Waikato brought things to our house and it was all taken to Tau­ranga where our son’s fam­ily lived,’’ Heather said.

It was a tragedy that could have torn them apart, she said, but in­stead, with people bring­ing food or mow­ing the lawns with­out be­ing asked, the fam­ily could fo­cus all their en­ergy on each other.

It is in­spir­ing proof that what goes around comes around.

The cou­ple have al­ways lived by com­mu­nity work.

Heather has gone the ex­tra mile and be­yond for na­tional net­ball and re­ceived an Na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion Ser­vice Award, while Brian is al­ways tin­ker­ing away on projects for oth­ers.

‘‘If ev­ery­body did one thing for the com­mu­nity it would be a bet­ter life for us all,’’ Brian said.

Photo: PET­RICE TAR­RANT

Keys to suc­cess: Heather and Brian Wil­liamson have weath­ered their fair share of storms in a re­mark­able 50-year mar­riage.

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