Best man wins 60 years of wedded bliss

IRENE Tooke was not aware of it but she had two young men trying to pluck up courage to ask her out.The one who took the plunge was Geoff Charnley and more than 60 years later he has no regrets.

IRENE Tooke was not aware of it but she had two young men trying to pluck up courage to ask her out.

The one who took the plunge was Geoff Charnley and more than 60 years later he has no regrets.

He did not even have win over his beloved's father because it was he who brought home the two young soldiers for a cup of tea because he felt sorry for them.

Irene and Geoff Charnley live in Kirby Street, Ipswich, and married at the parish Church of St Margaret's in Lowestoft – her home town – on March 10, 1943. Shortly afterwards he was sent abroad and they did not see each other again for two years.

Mrs Charnley, 84, said her father had gone to listen to the Salvation Army band playing in Lowestoft and saw these two lonely-looking soldiers.

"Dad brought them home and that was that. Geoff and his friend Dave, unknown to me, had been trying to see which one would be the first to ask me out," she added.

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Her husband, 85, said he was won over by her cooking, and added: "she made lovely jam tarts."

During the war Mr Charnley, who was born in Cumbria, was with the 5th Battalion Kings Own Regiment. He was evacuated from Dunkirk and saw action in Egypt and Iraq as a mechanic.

His wife, who is musical and plays the organ, was in the WRENS, as secretary to the commander on HMS Europa.

It was his work as a printer which brought the couple to Ipswich when Mr Charnley found a job at Cowells, where he stayed for 33 years until retirement.

They have a daughter, Jean who was born ten years after they married and a grand-daughter Michelle.

Keeping active is helped by walking their little dog Pip and Mr Charnley said the exercise has kept them fit.

Mr and Mrs Charnley received a telegram from the Queen on their diamond day and enjoyed a party with family and friends to celebrate their anniversary.

"We have had our ups and downs," said Mr Charnley, "but we have always worked through the difficult times."

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