Couple's marriage clickety-clicked!

Frank and Ida Parker's enduring love affair has lasted a wonderful 74 years.The 91-year-old Ipswich lovebirds really know what it is to clickety-click as this month they are celebrating 66 years of wedded bliss in one of Suffolk's strongest marriages.

By James Fraser

Frank and Ida Parker's enduring love affair has lasted a wonderful 74 years.

The 91-year-old Ipswich lovebirds really know what it is to clickety-click as this month they are celebrating 66 years of wedded bliss in one of Suffolk's strongest marriages.

Not that Frank and Ida Parker's record-breaking time together has been free of hardship – it has managed to survive through bombs, malaria…and a shared passion for Arsenal!


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Now the pair are gunning to celebrate their 100th birthdays as man and wife as they both vow the same undying love they felt for each other the first time they met as 17-year-olds on a Christchurch Park bench.

"I was in the park with one of my pals from work," said former nurse Frank, who was working as a French polisher at Tibbenhams antiques shop in Carr Street at the time. "He had been going out with Ida but they had broken up so I said I'd go out with Ida instead."

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Frank followed his work to London, but not before asking Ida to marry him. Eight years later in 1936, the couple emerged from St John's Church, Cauldwell Hall Road, as man and wife – but for Ida it was memorable for a very special reason.

"I was walking down the aisle with my father and I saw an angel," she said. "My mother had died two and a half years before when she was just 47 and she never saw me in my wedding dress. I saw this vision and I asked my Dad if I stopped walking. He said no but said that mum had now seen me on my wedding day."

In 1938, their son Douglas was born but war clouds were gathering on the horizon that would cast a shadow over family life.

Living through the Blitz at the eye of the storm in Hackney in London's East End, the newly-weds' home was bombed out and in 1940 the pair were forced to return to Ipswich to live with Frank's parents.

A period of four years' separation followed after Frank was called up to serve in the Royal Army Medical Corps in the treacherous conditions of Burma in the Far East campaign.

"I never received a letter for nine weeks," recalled Ida. "And then the first one I got Frank told me he was learning to walk again."

Keen footballer Frank had broken his ankle during one hard slog as monsoon season swept through the jungle.

He returned home, war-weary and suffering from malaria, to an eight-year-old son who didn't recognise him. "But they soon became pals again," said Ida,

Douglas, now 64, gave the couple a grandson, Duncan, now 32.

While living in the town's Nightingale Road and Hawthorn Drive, Frank began a long career as a nurse, retiring from Ipswich Hospital in 1975.

The couple, who moved into sheltered housing at Gwent House, Pembroke Close, are lifelong Arsenal fans, who used to visit Highbury when they lived in London. But the only time they argue, said Ida, is when Frank "puts too much football on the telly!"

Proud of their lifetime together, the plucky pair vow to keep on going. "We're going to try to make it to a hundred," said Frank. Ida beamed.

The residents held a party in their honour on the date of their anniversary last Thursday.

"They're such a wonderful couple," said warden Marie Clark. "They're so happy together."

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