The only two rules you’ll need for a long and happy marriage

Bertie and Jenny Moody on their wedding day in 1954
Bertie and Jenny Moody on their wedding day in 1954

You need only two rules for a long and happy marriage, according to Jenny Moody MBE – and she should know.

The Luton Women’s Aid founder and her beloved husband Bertie, of Wardown Crescent, have just celebrated 60 years of wedded bliss.

Bertie and Jenny Moody celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary

Bertie and Jenny Moody celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary

The mother-of-three, grandmother of 12 and great grandmother of 13 reels them off for the benefit of future generations: “Rule One . . . never forget how to laugh. Rule two . . . never forget rule one.”

Her blue eyes sparkle with merriment, but she’s quick to point out she also believes in the old-fashioned values of respect, sharing and honesty.

“Having secrets doesn’t work,” she says.

Jenny – Luton born and bred “and very proud of it” – was training to be a nurse and living in a bedsit in Acton when she met builder Bertie while she was waiting for a bus.

“We got chatting and then I went to a dance and this bloke came up and said ‘Haven’t we met before?’

“I thought ‘Oh that old line’ but it turned out to be him.

“I agreed to meet him the following week and he brought a puppy along. He took me to the pictures and we saw Peter Pan and Wendy, not some horrible cowboy thing. And I thought ‘I’m going to marry this man.’

“I loved his kindness and his sensitivity and his honesty.”
A year later Jenny Southgate – as she was then – walked down the aisle at St Mary’s Church and became Mrs Jenny Moody.

“We’ve had lots of ups and down like anyone else,” she admits. “And we’ve had our share of tragedy – the terrible loss of a grandson who died suddenly. But we’ve always been strong together, we’ve always been there for each other and our children.”

They’re known as ‘Min’ and ‘Minswife’ to their family who never liked calling them Mum and Dad.

“Min’s the solid one,” she says. “He’s set in concrete, while I’m the one putting in the flowers.”

She credits him with her achievements at Luton’s Women Aid which saw her meeting Princess Diana and being awarded an MBE. He always kept the home fires burning while she worked tirelessly for the victims of violence.

Jenny’s still working – as a PA to her son Doog, who runs Greenbank Music Village in High Town. And although she’s suffered a couple of mini strokes, her mind is as sharp as a tack. Her 80th birthday present was an iPad – and she’s already mastered the basics.

The double birthday and anniversary celebrations took place at Dunstable Downs Golf Club and on their boat on the River Ouse. There was a two tier cake, made by their daughter Karen, and more than 80 guests.

“Every single one of them was really important in our lives,” Jenny said. “I feel incredibly blessed.”