Childhood sweethearts reveal secret to happy marriage - 69 years after meeting at Gresham Village School

Robert and Brenda Mallett. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Robert and Brenda Mallett. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Brenda and Robert Mallett are celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary.

The diamond couple on their wedding day.

The diamond couple on their wedding day.

Childhood sweethearts have celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary - 69 years after meeting at primary school.

It all began for Brenda and Robert Mallett when they were at Gresham Village School in 1947.

The couple courted while Brenda worked at Felbrigg Hall and Robert worked in the army fire service as a first appliance driver.

On March 31, 1956, the couple married at John the Baptist church in Aylmerton. Robert remembers the day being very cold with a bitter east wind. He said: 'I remember Cannon Matthews yelling for the photographer to be quick or else the bride will end up with pneumonia.'

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At Felbrigg Hall Brenda carried out many duties including cooking meals and helping with functions. She said: 'It was very hard the first year, but most of all I enjoyed working with Emily (a very strict cook), and understanding all the elaborate dishes I would one day hope to achieve myself.'

She became main cook aged only 16 and cooked lunch, dinner and sherry parties where she met Queen Mary and the Kennedy family from America.

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She said: 'I loved every minute of it, I'd go back tomorrow if I could. It was a happy home, there was always an air of happiness.'

After leaving in 1956 to get married and start a family, she later returned to Felbrigg Hall in 1971 to work for the National Trust for 14 years.

After the army, Robert started work driving various animals, including race horses and Essex pigs, to and from farms across the country. He was then selected and registered by Weatherbys and authorised with a passport to enter all the race courses in the country. Through this he met many members of the royal family, including the would-be Queen Elizabeth.

The duo then set up their own haulage business before opening and running a residential care home in 1986 for 14 years.

After retiring in 2000, the couple spent seven months living in France, Andorra, Spain and Portugal.

The couple, who have three children and five grandchildren, now spend their time watching and feeding the many birds in their garden while Brenda still does cooking for various functions.

Brenda said: 'The secret to a long marriage is all about understanding one and other and give and take.'

Robert added: 'When we got married and I brought home my wage package I asked Brenda what she wanted and she took £5 a week for housekeeping. It has never been his or her money, always ours, and we have always been partners in the jobs we've done.'

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