Norwich couple’s love bloomed despite a scary start to marriage during Baedeker Raids

PUBLISHED: 09:12 02 May 2012 | UPDATED: 13:02 02 May 2012

Bill and Phyllis Webster married in the aftermath of the Baedeker raids on Norwich 70 years ago and are now celebrating their Platinum wedding anniversary.  Photo: Bill Smith

Bill and Phyllis Webster married in the aftermath of the Baedeker raids on Norwich 70 years ago and are now celebrating their Platinum wedding anniversary. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2012

Wedding days are often nerve-wracking affairs for the bride and groom but that would be an understatement if you were describing the 1942 wedding of Bill and Phyllis Webster.

“I was absolutely scared stiff,” is how Mrs Webster describes the morning of her wedding day, 70 years to the day that she married her husband at St Augustine’s Church in Norwich.

Mr and Mrs Webster are celebrating their platinum wedding today. They are due for a visit from the Lord Mayor of Norwich, Jenny lay, this morning before heading to Assembly House for a family party this evening.

Both are well known characters around the city for their work with Norwich In Bloom and for running the bars at Carrow Road alongside their day jobs.

They have two sons, Michael, 65, and Martin, 62, who have brought them three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, with one more on the way.

With events around Norwich currently remembering the Baedeker Raids of 70 years ago, it brings back some unusual memories for Mr and Mrs Webster, who are aged 90 and 89 respectively.

Mr Webster was based in Dover with the Royal Artillery just the day before their wedding, worrying from a distance as he heard of the bombings of his home city.

He returned home for the wedding on Saturday, May 2 and saw the heavy damage caused to Norwich.

Mrs Webster said: “We had no church windows or water. So we weren’t able to have a bath and I wasn’t able to wash my hair. We were just worrying about getting people there really, and everybody was on edge. I can’t actually remember much about the wedding.”

Mrs Webster worked at the post office on St George’s Street and does remember a near-miss when a bomb exploded two shops down from her, just as she was about to go out of the shop’s door to the nearby air raid shelter.

They initially lived at Ebenezer Terrace, off Sussex Street, but have now lived in Friends Road, West Earlham, for over 58 years.

And despite their difficult start to marriage, they say they have largely enjoyed a very happy marriage.

“It’s all about tolerance,” Mr Webster said, before his wife added: “We’ve had a good life.”

Mr Webster is still involved with Norwich In Bloom, as an ambassador, and has previously been involved as an entrant, vice-chairman and chairman, with Mrs Webster supporting her husband both at events and in putting together press clipping files ready for regional and national judges to view. Indeed, Mr Webster was Norwich in Bloom’s longest-serving chairman, between 1999 and 2007, and his wife describes him as “Norwich’s Mr Bloom”.

Terry Bane, current chairman of The Friends of Norwich in Bloom, said: “Bill is infectious. He invites and encourages so many people to be involved in helping keep Norwich looking attractive and is a true ambassador.

“I first got to know Bill in 1999, he took me home to meet Phyllis and ever since then they have treated me as a family member.

“On behalf of The Friends of Norwich in Bloom we wish Bill and Phyllis a very happy anniversary, they are a shining example to follow.”

- For more about the Baedeker raids, see pages 12 and 13 of today’s Evening News, as Derek James remembers the people who lost their lives on the first night of the Blitz.

- Do you know someone approaching a landmark anniversary? Contact David Freezer on 01603 772418 or

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