Are Eileen and Ron Luton’s longest wed?

Ron and Eileen Tomlin of Luton on their wedding day in April 1942

Ron and Eileen Tomlin of Luton on their wedding day in April 1942

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Eileen Lovett was only 19 when she walked down the aisle at St Pancras Church in Chichester to be joined in holy matrimony with her Luton beau Ron Tomlin, a fresh-faced 22-year-old butcher boy.

Now, 72 years later, they’re back in the town where Ron was born and bred to live out their sunset years.

Luton couple Ron and Eileen Tomlin who have been married for 72 years

Luton couple Ron and Eileen Tomlin who have been married for 72 years

And in spite of the fact they’re both nonagenarians, they take a keen interest in the community and lead an active life attending lunch clubs while Ron, 94, regales visitors with a never-ending supply of stories.

The father-of-two, grandfather-of-four and great grandfather of four more bemoans the fact that he needs assistance because he can no longer bend down to dry himself in the shower. But mentally he’s bright as a button and as Eileen’s health has deteriorated, he’s taken over the cooking.

“I’m learning as I go,” he beams. “I’ve got a three-tier steamer and I wouldn’t serve a meal if the plates weren’t warm.

“I’ve always been practical and I can put a pudding on the table in two minutes. But I can’t make pastry the way Eileen did.” And he squeezes his wife’s hand affectionately as they sit side-by-side in their Pastures Way sheltered accommodation.

The walls are lined with family photographs and there are display cabinets for Ron’s matchstick models and Eileen’s thimble collection.

The couple got together when Ron went to Sussex for a Territorial Army summer camp.

“It was the last weekend before war broke out and I walked into town with a load of lads and met Eileen,” he says. “We just hit it off and we corresponded from then on.

They married in 1942. Ron recalls: “It was a very quiet affair. There were only four of us in the church and we went back home for a bit of a buffet. There wasn’t a lot available because of rationing.”

He became a coach driver after the war and joined the South Down Bus Company where he remained for four happy decades.

Eileen often accompanied him as he took groups of tourists around the country. “We’ve never been short-tempered with each other,” he reflects. “Perhaps that’s the secret of our success.”