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Accidental first date which led to a half-century love affair is recreated at Dereham cinema

14:45 01 September 2014

Mary and Gordon Olley have returned to see the film

Mary and Gordon Olley have returned to see the film 'A Hard Day's Night' at Dereham Cinema, to celebrate their first dates 50th anniversary. Picture: Matthew Usher.

© Archant Norfolk 2014

It was an accidental date that started a romance which, half a century on, is as strong as ever.

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Mary and Gordon Olley have returned to see the film 'A Hard Day's Night' at Dereham Cinema, to celebrate their first dates 50th anniversary. Picture: Matthew Usher.Mary and Gordon Olley have returned to see the film 'A Hard Day's Night' at Dereham Cinema, to celebrate their first dates 50th anniversary. Picture: Matthew Usher.

When a 17-year-old Gordon Olley was asked by his then girlfriend, Edna, to buy an extra ticket to the cinema so she could bring her friend, Mary, little did he know this would be his future wife.

On Saturday, exactly 50 years to the day from that life-changing encounter, Mr Olley recreated the date -albeit without Edna - to celebrate his enduring romance with Mary.

Mr Olley, 67, hired out Dereham cinema, the same venue where they had the date, to watch A Hard Day’s Night, with his wife Mary, 65, the film they enjoyed on August 30, 1964 - a day they will never forget.

It was organised in secret as a surprise for Mrs Olley.

Mary and Gordon at their wedding day in 1967Mary and Gordon at their wedding day in 1967

She said: “Gordon gave me a card on my birthday, on August 19, with a note saying you will have a surprise day out on August 30.

“I never expected anything like this.

“When I got out of the car and saw the balloons at the cinema I just burst into tears.

“It’s a lovely thing to do and it brought back so many memories.”

A scene from A Hard Day's Night which Gordan and Mary for the first time since their first date on Saturday.A scene from A Hard Day's Night which Gordan and Mary for the first time since their first date on Saturday.

Mrs Olley said of the first date: “My friend Edna was going out with Gordon at the time and she asked me to join them at the cinema.

“We all went in together and I came out with him.

“I stayed friends with Edna afterwards, she was okay with everything.”

At the original date, Mr Olley paid 36 pence for the three cinema tickets and, after the film, the couple enjoyed the Dereham fun fair before Mrs Olley took the 9.30pm bus home to Swaffham.

Mr Olley was living in Dereham and, at the time, it was seen as very unusual for people from different towns to be dating.

Their second date was a dance at Swaffham Assembly Rooms a week later and the third date was at the cinema in King’s Lynn.

One year later they became engaged, with Mr Olley going down on one knee to propose at Aylsham market.

And on August 19, 1967, Mrs Olley’s 18th birthday, just three years after that first date, they married at Sporle church.

The couple, who live in Wendling, near Dereham, have three sons - David, 45, Stephen, 44, and Matthew, 38 and five grandchildren - Jake, 17, Tazmin, 14, Amy, 14, Morgan and Lewis, who are both 12.

Mr Olley was a water engineer in Shipdham when he met his future wife and she worked at Brooks fireworks factory in Swaffham.

They both retired last summer after running Breckland Photographic, on Norwich Street, Dereham since the late 1980s.

Mr Olley was a photographer and Mrs Olley worked on the front desk.

Mr Olley, who has become known for his romantic gestures, came up with the idea of recreating the first date 10 years ago.

He said: “Back then they didn’t think they would be able to get hold of the film.

“I bought a copy when it was released on DVD and the people at the cinema have been so nice to let us do this.”

Dereham’s Hollywood Cinema opened especially for the Olleys and staff came in earlier than normal.

Deputy manager Sharon Neale said: “We’ve never done anything like this before.

“But it’s such a lovely thing for them to do and we were only too happy to help.”

Do you know someone who is celebrating an anniversary or milestone in an unusual way? E mail newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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