The Woodcocks' 65th wedding anniversary, at Derby S. George's

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On the 12th of September, 2018, Win and Albert Woodcock celebrated sixty-five years of marriage, and their Blue Sapphire Anniversary with a Thanksgiving Mass at S. George's parish church, Derby, followed by a reception, along with fellow Sunday morning parishioners. During Mass, Canon Alan Burbidge presented them with letters of congratulations and best wishes from Bishop Patrick and from Cardinal Vincent Nichols, recognising and commending them on their long, happy marriage. Fr. Alan shared with the parish a summary of the last sixty-five years they have shared; they also received a papal blessing from Pope Francis, a card from the Queen, a special cake and flowers and cards from parishioners.

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Here is how it all began: Win and Albert were both born in 1932 and grew up in Wigan, Lancashire. They met when they were both eighteen. Win loved dancing but unfortunately Albert didn’t dance, which in Win’s words was a ‘fly in the ointment.’ But, in addition to Win’s regular dancing evenings, they both enjoyed frequent visits to The County Cinema.

They were married at the age of twenty-one, on the 12th of September 1953, at S. Patrick’s church, Wigan. Their wedding reception was held at Dalton's cafe in Wigan, with a ‘lovely boiled ham salad.’ Unfortunately, the wedding clashed with Wigan playing in the rugby league final, so in the afternoon all of the men left to go and watch the match and then returned to the reception in the evening! They went on their honeymoon to Paignton, leaving on the 22:30 train and being waved off by all of their guests. Unfortunately, the train was so full that they had to sit at opposite ends of the carriage for the eight hour overnight journey.

At first, Win and Albert lived with Win’s parents. Albert worked for the coal board, teaching at the local tech college and working in the laboratories. Then Win’s father got Albert a job ‘down the pit,’ and he continued his teaching in the evenings. Win was a seamstress and worked in Manchester. They had the opportunity to set up their first home when they bought a grocery shop in Wigan from an uncle, for £2,000. He promised them that it was ‘well-stocked,’ but when they moved in, there was a room full of Daz washing powder and boxes and boxes of tinned plums and that was the full extent of the stock! Win gave up her sewing job and took over ‘W. Woodcock Provisions.’

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In 1955, James was born. Albert drove a three-wheeled car called ‘Frisky’ and the family enjoyed many wonderful family holidays travelling to Win’s mother's caravan in Fleetwood. Sadly, W. Woodcock Provisions was badly hit by the introduction of the supermarket and, after about five years, the shop closed and was converted into a home. In 1962, Carole was born. In 1966, Albert got a promotion with the Coal Board, working in research in London, and it was with a very heavy heart that they left Wigan. Only three years later, Albert’s job was relocated to Britney. They had many sleepless nights worrying about selling their London house for £5,250 and having to pay £7,250 for a house in Derby.

When they moved to Derby, Win and Albert became very involved with S. George’s - both at the school and at the church. Albert set up a boys' and girls' club with Fr. Briffa, became one of the first school governors and was one of the first of the extraordinary ministers of holy communion. Win became a dinner lady at the school, a job she loved for over twenty-five years. Win and Albert have three grandchildren: Claire, Chris and Catherine, with whom they spend much time. Win and Albert always attend the 9.30 Mass on Sunday, and really look forward to seeing all their friends on Sundays. They dearly wanted Fr. Alan to say the Mass for them in thanksgiving and celebration.

65 years of marriage = 23,740 days, which is 568,778 hours, which is 34,186,680 minutes, which is a very long time! Best wishes, Win and Albert, from all at S. George's and Holy Spirit, Derby.

- Mrs. Karan O’Connor, Parish Correspondent

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Mr. and Mrs. Woodcock, on the 12th of September, 1953