Thursday, November 19, 2009
The couple who met at aged five that have been together ever since
They met as five-year-old schoolchildren in 1929 and have been together almost constantly ever since.
But in a union that has spanned nine decades and survived the Second World War, Jim Hadwin and his wife Moira have managed to avoid a single row.
Retired firefighter Jim, 85, said: 'We have all been rock-solid since the very first day, we always knew it was going to last.
'We have spent our lives together but I wouldn't change a thing. We still make each other laugh and we are still grateful to have spent our lives together.
'We are very similar but we argue like any couple but we get on tremendously and we know it would be silly to fall out over silly things.
'Moira is a very reasonable, patient person and it doesn't bear thinking about what my life would be like if I hadn't met Moira.
'Every day has been lovely with Moira, I wouldn't change a thing.'
After spending two years in the same class at Kings Street School, Spennymoor, County Durham, Moira was moved to a nearby girl's school separating her from her future husband for one of the only times in her life.
The devoted pair were re-united aged 11, when fate threw them back together in the same class at Oldham and Wraith Grammar School, much to Jim's delight.
Jim said: 'We were in the same class until we were seven and I remember being very disappointed when she moved.
'It was only a small place so I still saw her but I preferred it when she was in my class.
'I could tell then that she was a wonderful person and I always thought she was very pretty.'
Jim took three years to muster up the courage to make Moira his girlfriend, the pair eventually beginning their life-long courtship when they turned 14.
Retired fireman Jim added: 'We were back in the same class and from then on we were inseparable.
'We started courting at 14 when I took her home to meet my parents after the school Christmas party.
'I remember having butterflies in my stomach and feeling on top of the world when we started courting.
'In those days it was very different to how it is now, there was no cavorting and gentleman had to behave a certain way, but even knowing we were together made me very happy.'
Jim left school at 17 to enter the Police Cadet service, while Moira remained at school with her eye on attending university.
When war tore Europe apart, newly-signed-up Marine Jim was sent across Europe and Moira re-located to a munitions factory in Cambridge.
But even with Jim hundreds of miles away in Belgium, Holland and Germany, Moira was always at his side.
Before he departed he was given three pictures of Moira, one for each of the main pockets of his uniform to protect him from a hail of German bullets.
Brave Jim added: 'They were the best good luck charms imaginable because I didn't get shot, so they must have worked.
'It was terrible for us to be apart but we wrote and I saw her once or twice when I was close enough to Britain to get back, but otherwise all I had were the pictures of her.
'The war was a very hard time for everyone but we survived it, we were each other's rocks even though we were miles apart.'
Just over two years after the end of the war in the summer of 1948 the couple were married at St Paul's Church, Spennymoor.
They settled into their new careers as fireman and a secretary respectively.
Jim's work saw the pair relocate from Newcastle to Poole, Dorset, where he worked as station manager before retiring in 1976.
Since then they have both retired to spend their days by the seaside in Weymouth and despite spending their whole lives together, Jim insists they still love each other's company.
With such a strong relationship behind them Jim and Moira, also 85, who decided against having children, are experts in making a marriage work and claim a shift in attitudes is to blame for Britain's divorce culture.
'I think it is all too easy for people these days to give up on marriages and relationships,' said Jim.
'It is too easy to get divorced. You have ups and downs in any relationship but you have to work through them and take the good with the bad.
'People seem to think that marriage is a commitment they can get out of if they want but if you care enough to get married in the first place you should work to make it last.'
Jim also has two golden rules for any newly-married men to ensure a long and happy marriage.
He added: 'We have lasted so long because I was brought up to earn the money and provide for my wife.
'But the important thing for any husband is to remember that once you've earned your money, you have to give it to your wife so she can spend it.'