A COUPLE who spent the first year of marriage on opposite sides of the world were celebrating their golden wedding anniversary today.

John and Doreen Willis married at St John's Church, Worcester, on January 16, 1954. One month later, he sailed to the Far East.

"I followed him round the world on a map," said Doreen, aged 70. "My family even came round to my house to see where he was."

The couple, of Allens Hill, Pinvin, near Pershore, recalled the first time they met. John was a sailor and Doreen a student nurse living in Worcester.

They first met each other at Fernhill Heath Dance Hall in December, 1952, while John was home on leave. He asked Doreen to dance and they never looked back.

"She's an excellent wife and a first-class cook," said John, aged 74. "She sews and knits for all the children and we get on very well socially."

The couple have three children, Lyn, Sue and Paul, as well as eight grandchildren.

They are a close-knit family - Paul lives next door and Sue in St John's.

Sue delivers the Evening News, so today she will have a preview of Mum and Dad's big day.


After leaving the Navy, John still had a taste for travel with exciting trips to Italy, Spain and the Greek Islands.

Thankfully, Doreen didn't need to follow the journey on a map, because she went too. Nowadays, they are content at home with devoted labrador Rebel and rabbit Leo.

It is a long way from their first home in Foley Road, Worcester, where the windows were painted white so people outside would not know how little furniture they had.

Retirement has not meant putting their feet up to relax.

"We seem just as busy now," said Doreen.

Doreen is a volunteer at St Richard's Hospice shop in Pershore.

John put their successful marriage down to taking things slowly.

"Marriage is not always recognised nowadays - it's just a bit of paper. But when we got married, we built a home together."

The couple were due to celebrate tonight with a family meal followed by drinks at the Royal British Legion in Pinvin.