Happy ending to family's tragic story

A DIAMOND couple from Suffolk have today been given a new lease of life after grieving the loss of their only son and recovering from their own near-death experience.

A DIAMOND couple from Suffolk have today been given a new lease of life after grieving the loss of their only son and recovering from their own near-death experience.

Pamela and Walter Southgate, of East End, East Bergholt, have renewed their wedding vows in the church where they got married 60 years ago.

But their day was made extra special when their granddaughter announced she was expecting their first great-grandchild.

Kathryn Darby, 25, is due to give birth on January 31 - the same day when she, Mrs Southgate and Mrs Southgate's mother also celebrate their birthdays.

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The news is a massive boost to the family, who are still coming to terms with the loss of Kathryn's father, Martin Southgate, who passed away two years ago after an illness at the age of 56.

Then in February this year, Pamela Southgate, 84, broke her hip when she slipped and fell while running a bath.

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She was taken to Ipswich Hospital and required a blood transfusion after developing serious complications with her lungs during the operation to repair her hip.

Pamela said: “I had a blockage in my lung and nearly died. My husband came in and said we nearly lost you.

“We are so grateful to people who have helped us. I was terribly ill in hospital.”

Mrs Southgate pulled through and recovered just in time to celebrate their diamond anniversary at Brantham Church, where they tied the knot on June 4, 1949, for a service in front of 70 relatives and friends on Sunday. They also received a card from the Queen.

But before the ceremony, they were given a wonderful surprise from Mrs Darby, a teacher at Chantry High School.

Pamela said: “She wished us all the best and said she had a big surprise. I was thrilled particularly as we had lost our son.

“Renewing our vows was lovely and very moving. It is quite an achievement after 60 years.”

Mrs Darby, who lives with husband John in Laurelhayes, Ipswich, said: “The day was absolutely wonderful. It was lovely for them to see everybody again and for me it was the first time I had been to the church since my father's funeral.”

Has your anniversary been made extra special? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

PAMELA and Walter met at a tea dance in Brantham Village Hall in 1947.

Mr Southgate, 84, had just been de-mobbed from the Second Tactical Air Force after serving in France and Germany during the Second World War.

He went on to work at BX Plastics before becoming a self-employed manufacturer of horticultural supplies. Mrs Southgate was a secretary for BX Plastics in Brantham for 35 years.

Until illness forced him to retire at 70, Mr Southgate had been heavily involved with Brantham Church, where he served as an elder and warden. In retirement, Mrs Southgate likes dress-making and gardening.

Mrs Southgate said: “We have worked hard together and shared everything. We have had our differences of opinion, but we've always sorted our problems out together.”

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