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Tea dance led to life of romance

PUBLISHED: 20:25 20 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:35 03 March 2010

WHAT does black market tea and a dance have in common?

That's exactly the combination that led to the first meeting of former Londoners Eric White and his future wife, Eileen.

WHAT does black market tea and a dance have in common?

That's exactly the combination that led to the first meeting of former Londoners Eric White and his future wife, Eileen.

Now the pair are celebrating 50 years of wedded bliss.

The couple met after Eric's mother bought black market tea off Eileen's mother who just happened to mention she had a daughter.

Love sparked over a blind date at a dance in the Assembly Hall in Walthamstow in 1947.

"We went out for a month or so," said Eric, who was in the airforce at the time. "Eileen was only 14 at the time and it felt like cradle snatching."

Three years later they had a chance meeting at the Royal Forest Hotel in Chingford and rekindled their romance.

"I went up there dancing and she just happened to be there," said Eric, of Station Road, Claydon. "We got chatting and it went from there."

They married two years later in 1952, at St Luke's Church in Hackney, London.

Eric was a former printer before the couple went into the licenced trade. Among the pubs they ran together was The Kings Head in Sproughton Road, Ipswich, where they stayed for eight years.

"We consider Ipswich as our home now," said Eric. "We wouldn't want to go back to London. We had some of the happiest years in the Kings Head and met nice clientelle."

Eric, 73, enjoys using his computer for horse racing and Eileen, 69, is keen on gardening.

"The secret of our long lasting marriage is that I am lucky to have what I call a lovely lady. I always tell her that she is a lucky lady, but I never say that I am luckier than her."

They celebrated with a meal on their anniversary and a big family celebration the following weekend.

They have four children and eight grand children.


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