When newlyweds Gordon and Barbara Bassett went to cut their wedding cake 60 years ago, they got the shock of their lives - when a bolt of lightning flashed in through the open window and struck the knife!
The reception was during a thunderstorm Barbara recalls: “Gordon threw it up in the air with a cry, but he was alright.”
Despite the thunderous omen, the Heckington couple have been happily married ever since and received a message of congratulations from The Queen on their diamond anniversary last Thursday.
The pair celebrated with a special meal at Miller’s restaurant with friends from their church, as they are dedicated Wesleyan Methodists.
The big wedding had been held at Rochford, near Southend in Essex and Barbara says it had to be in the Congregational Chapel as there was not a Wesleyan chapel available. They then honeymooned on the Isle of Wight.
Both Gordon and Barbara had been born in Suffolk, but both moved and happened to meet when he was 16 and she was 17 while attending a little chapel at Stambridge near Rochford.
She said: “I always attended that chapel and his brother used to come and invited Gordon along for a special event. I think his first impression was, ‘she’s not my sort’.” But they soon hit it off.
Gordon worked as a horticulturalist all his life apart from two years National Service as an Army medic.
The couple moved with his promotions and Gordon landscaped the University of Kent campus at Canterbury and then worked on landscaping on the Ascension Islands. After the Falklands War, he went there to landscape while the new airport was being built, experimenting with trees and grasses that could cope with the wind and the peat soils.
Barbara worked as a seceretary but later had their son. They also have a grandson.
She said: “Our main thing through life has always been the church. We have never missed going - sometimes three times a day, and he is a local preacher to three or four churches on the Wesleyan circuit.
Living in Heckington for the last 18 years, Gordon loved his allotment until having to give it up after illness last year and needing to be rescuscitated twice. “He is my miracle,” Barbara said.