A DIAMOND couple have received their letter from the Queen marking their 60th year of wedded bliss.
Reverend Maurice and Shirley Whittaker, both 81, of Hawthorneden Gardens, celebrated their diamond anniversary on December 19 surrounded by friends and family.
The couple, who have two children, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, married at the age of 21 after meeting at school.
Reverend Whittaker, a retired minister of the Baptist church, said: “We met at school when we were just 14 and we got engaged at 20.
“Then at 21 we got married.
“I trained as a structural engineer and Shirley was a nursery nurse.
“Then straight after we got married I was posted to Cyprus for my national service so I was away for 18 months.”
Mrs Whittaker said: “After he got back, he felt the call of the ministry and went back to college to study theology for three years and become a minister for the Baptist church.
“We have lived all over the country and Maurice has worked for six or seven different churches, from inner-city churches in Birmingham and Leeds to a big country church in Cambridge.
“We moved to Uttoxeter as we had been visiting for years, as our daughter and her husband have lived here for thirty years.
“In our retirement, Maurice has carried on preaching at the Methodist church and all the different churches around here, where we have received a warm welcome.”
Reverend Whittaker said: “Keeping an active mind and spirit is important to us and since we moved to Uttoxeter sixteen years ago, we have joined the indoor bowls club, the sequence dancing class and I attend Probus.
When asked about the secret to a long, happy marriage, Mrs Whittaker said: “We love each other very much and we love the Lord so there are three of us in our marriage.
“Marriage is give and take.” Reverend Whittaker said: “We have kept active and busy doing things all our lives, it’s been a joy in our retirement to watch the grandchildren and great grandchildren grow up.
“They are a blessing.
“There was a time when we were 14 that Shirley wouldn’t go out with me because I was shorter than she was!
“I wouldn’t swop her for the world.”