Childhood sweethearts celebrate platinum day
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