Child­hood sweet­hearts cel­e­brate plat­inum day

Middleton Guardian - - FRONT PAGE - HE­LEN JOHN­SON

APAIR of child­hood sweet­hearts who first met as school­child­ren are cel­e­brat­ing their 70th wed­ding an­niver­sary.

Ken­neth and Lil­ian Cooke were just 20 and 18 re­spec­tively when they mar­ried and even adopted Nat King Cole’s ‘They Tried To Tell Us We’re Too Young’ as their song - be­cause that’s what ev­ery­one said to them at the time.

But their re­la­tion­ship went on to stand the test of time and now they are cel­e­brat­ing their plat­inum an­niver­sary sur- rounded by fam­ily and friends.

Ken­neth first caught Lil­ian’s eye when he was 14 and she was 12 - be­cause she liked his dis­tinc­tive navy and yel­low Manch­ester School for Boys uni­form.

Two years later, their paths would cross again on the Red Rec in Mos­ton and from then on they would meet reg­u­larly on the ‘Mon­key Run’, which was where young girls would ‘walk out’ on Sun­days.

The de­voted cou­ple mar­ried four years later at Christ Church in Harpurhey on Au­gust 18, 1947.

They mar­ried on a Mon­day be­cause Lil­ian’s bridesmaid Anne, who would later marry her brother, worked at her fam­ily gro­cers shop and her dad would not let her have Satur­days off.

Iron­i­cally, Ken­neth lost his job for hav­ing the day off to get mar­ried.

Ken worked on the rail­ways be­fore war ser­vice in the Royal Marines. When de­mobbed, he worked at Wil­mot Bree­den mak­ing brake shoes for cars, then as a bus con­duc­tor then lorry driver for Robert McBrides in Mid­dle­ton, where he worked for 30 years, even­tu­ally be­com­ing pro­duc­tion man­ager.

He re­tired in 1992 and had a lung re­moved due to can­cer in the same year.

Lil­ian, mean­while, was a sec­re­tary for Fry’s Me­tals on Red Bank in Manch­ester and then for Dons Solic­i­tors in Manch­ester and Rochdale. She fi­nally re­tired in 1998 at the age of 70.

The cou­ple ini­tially lived in Hen­don Vale and later moved to the then brand new Lan­g­ley es­tate in Mid­dle­ton. In 1967 they set­tled in Alkring­ton, where they still live to this day.

They have two chil­dren, Jan­ice, 69 and Gra­ham, 64, as well as four grand­chil­dren and nine great­grand­chil­dren, who range in age from 21 years to six months old.

Over the years they have en­joyed trav­el­ling the world to­gether on cruises and still en­joy breaks in the UK.

Ken­neth, now 90 and Lil­ian, 88, cel­e­brated their an­niver­sary with a party at Mid­dle­ton Ma­sonic Hall on Fri­day night.

Their son Gra­ham per­formed with his band String The­ory, along­side Ken­neth on his ukulele, who sang and played the Jim Reeves bal­lad ‘I Love You Be­cause’ to his sweet­heart Lil­ian.

Gra­ham said: “This is a fan­tas­tic achieve­ment. My par­ents lived through great hard­ship and many changes since their wed­ding in the wake of World War Two.

“There were no com­put­ers, tele­vi­sions, phones or fridges in those days and they had no lux­u­ries like cars or hol­i­days.

“They just had to work hard to pay the rent and put food on the ta­ble. My sis­ter Jan­ice and I make sure our chil­dren and grand­chil­dren know how much eas­ier life is to­day.

“They are an in­spi­ra­tion to all the fam­ily and we are all very proud of them both.”

Ken­neth and Lil­ian Cooke and (right) on their wed­ding day

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