IT is certainly a rare occurrence to hear of a couple celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary, but that is just what one couple in the Okehampton area have achieved, writes Alan Quick.

Reg and Hazel Kingsland, who now live in Copplestone,  were married at Providence Chapel near Throwleigh on January 6, 1954, and on the day of their anniversary they returned to the very chapel where they married 70 years ago.

Almost to the same time as their first ceremony, and much to their astonishment, they walked into the chapel to discover friends and family gathered to celebrate with them. Just as they did to mark their 50th wedding anniversary, they celebrated with a service, even singing the same hymns as their wedding day. 

The Rev Chris Jackson officiated for the 70th anniversary service and afterwards a celebration cake and tea awaited them in the chapel’s Sunday School room. It was their family who organised the blessing of their marriage at the Methodist chapel on the day of the platinum anniversary.

Reg said: “It was an incredible thing, it was a great secret everyone had kept.”

Many gifts and cards were received and the next day more cards and gifts were received at a family celebration meal held at the Waie Inn at Zeal Monachorum.

A card of congratulation was received by Reg and Hazel from the King and Queen and in it, it read: “We send you our warmest congratulations and heartfelt good wishes on the celebration of your Platinum Wedding anniversary on January 6. May your celebrations be particularly happy and memorable.”

Hazel’s maiden name was Osborn and the family lived at South Zeal. Hazel went to school at South Zeal and then to Okehampton. She worked on the family smallholding and she and Reg lived there for a while after they were married before moving to South Nethercott at Whiddon Down.

She and Reg ran the youth club at Throwleigh for several years. Reg was born at Well Farm, Whiddon Down, one of ten children. He went to school at Whiddon Down and Moretonhampstead. The family moved to Uppacott, then his father was asked to run the farm at Murchington. Reg left school and went to work on local farms. He and Hazel later moved to Spreyton where Reg worked for Lord Lambert, and then to Newton St Cyres, where he worked for 18 years on one of the estate farms.They then moved to Copplestone 46 years ago.

For 14 years, Reg worked for Devon County Council on ground maintenance, looking after the grounds for schools for miles around.

For about five years, he worked for Rex Rozario of Graphic plc as a gardener and handyman.

Now retired, they both remain fit and healthy although some sight loss means Reg is now unable to drive. They both still enjoy their garden and Hazel’s interests include cross-stitch and crosswords.

Reg (91) and Hazel (93), have three children, four grandchildren and three step-grandchildren.

They also have 13 great-grandchildren and step-great-grandchildren and two days before their anniversary a step great-great grandchild was born. They said that the secret to their long and happy marriage was “getting on with each other” and “looking after each other”.

They concluded: “We are like peas in a pod.”