A FORMER mayor of a town in the Moorlands and his wife celebrate their blue sapphire wedding anniversary today as the couple mark 65 years of marriage. Ray James, who was the mayor of Cheadle between 1976 and 1977, and his wife Vera married at Cheadle Church in 1954, two years after their first date in the town. Speaking to the Times and Echo, Vera reminisced how Ray had proposed to her.
She said: “He came riding over across the high street on his bike with a ring.
“I didn’t know nothing about it.”
The couple went on to have three daughters, who all live in Cheadle, six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Vera had to stop work and look after her siblings as a teenager when her mother died at 47-years-old a day after her father had a major mining accident.
Ray worked in the mines at Berry Hill and Foxfield Colliery between 1948 and 1958 before going on to work with the council after being forced to stop work due to ill-health.
Ray was part of the first Cheadle Carnival committee in 1977 taking over the parade in 1978 which, at its peak, saw over 54 floats, 14 marching bands and 32 dance groups take part.
The 86-year-old explained: “It took an hour to get from Cheadle Station to Brookhouses.
“The town was absolutely packed. The festival was really well known and there was none other like it in the area.”
Ray also led a drumming band for 18 years, starting the group up from scratch after advertising for participants in the Cheadle & Tean Times.
He described how he spent “many a bright night” sewing on patterns on the group’s uniforms and hats.
Ray became the Mayor of Cheadle in 1996, and says his favourite highlight was being invited down to Buckingham Palace for the Queen’s Garden Party in 1997.
“It was a wonderful time,” the couple said. “We didn’t meet the Queen but she walked by us, shaking a few hands along the way.”
The pair, who said they have either a whisky or brandy every night, have lived in Cheadle all their lives and have seen the town change during their time together.
Ray said: “Cheadle has changed a lot.
“When we grew up, every shop was full and every shop was different.
“People forget every one of them shops had a family living over the top of it.
“Every one of those shops were content as long as they could make a living and put a little bit aside for their retirement but then all of a sudden, all the big supermarkets came in and these businesses realised they couldn’t keep up with them.
“It’s a different world, more of a commercial world. Back then, everybody knew everybody, you could leave your doors open.
“If you were bad, neighbours would come round asking if they could do anything for you. It’s a different society today.”
The couple said they have both lived good lives, going on holidays abroad and making memories.
“We used to open up the garage, put a settee in and give chips and orange squash to the kids,” 83-year-old Vera said.
Ray added: “We used to put the record player on and I told ghost stories to the kids.
“You look back at the things I’ve done; I’ve gone through town in a pram with a nappy on while smoking a pipe for fancy dress, walked into the Master Potter in a kilt and with pipes, dressing up as Santa Claus – I’ve done some daft things but had some good times,” he chuckled.
The couple revealed what the secret to a long, happy marriage was.
Ray said: “Give and take, don’t expect everything to be given to you and don’t take everything.
“It has it’s ups and downs but it doesn’t last and it all comes together.
“You’ve got to be fair and down the line. If you fall out, make up on the same day and that’s it because life’s too short.”
Vera added: “It’s very very rare we fall out, we may argue but that’s it.”
Ray and Vera are set to enjoy a family meal with their daughters and family today as they toast 65 years of love and marriage.
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