Christmas card reignited Attleborough couple’s diamond romance

When Joan Godfrey was writing her Christmas cards in 1950, there was one person who was conspicuously missing from the list- her ex-boyfriend Ken Maynard.

So when the teenager got to her last card and did not know who to send it to, her mother Winifred suggested she send the seasonal greeting to her former love, who she had split up with a couple of years previously.

The choice proved prophetic, prompting Ken to get back in touch and the Attleborough couple have remained at the top of each other's Christmas card lists ever since as they prepare to celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary on June 14.

They met as 13-year-olds while attending boys and girls schools in Bexley Heath, Kent and spent their courtship visiting cinemas and going for walks in the park.

However, they broke up for a brief period before being reconciled by Joan's Christmas card and married on June 14, 1952 at Christchurch in Bexley Heath.

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At the time, Ken, 80, was an aircraftsman in the RAF working as a chief technician on bombers and fighters, including Lancasters, Sunderlands, Vampires and Lightnings.

They lived initially in Welling, Kent, where they had grown up, before moving into married quarters at RAF Biggin Hill and then up to Norfolk when Ken was stationed at West Raynham and then Coltishall during the 1960s.

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Joan, also 80, initially worked as a secretary for a London firm before becoming secretary at the then Attleborough First School when the couple moved to Norfolk.

Ken left the RAF in 1971 to become a lab technician at Attleborough High School before working for a waste disposal company.

The couple, who now live in Dodds Road, have played an active role with organisations within the town as they both used to organise the town carnival and fun days, while Ken was also a town councillor for three years and involved with the first school's parent teacher association.

They have three children, Richard, 56, Graham, 47 and Lesley Spencer, 55, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren and will be celebrating their diamond wedding with a meal at Sherbourne House hotel in Attleborough with family, some of whom have travelled from as far afield as Australia.

Joan said: 'I think the key to a long marriage is trust and love. They are the most important things to have.'

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