THEY met in the middle of World War 2, married at the age of 19 and after 70 years of marriage, one can tell that Lorraine couple Donald and Essie Sendall are still madly in love.’
“We went to the same school in Luton in England – Beach Hill – but we didn’t know it. We left school at 14 and later, we met at work. I was a pattern maker during the war and Essie worked in the laboratory,” Donald said.
Essie remembers “a lot of males” where Don worked “and all the guys would look at me but I ended with Donald although I didn’t like him very much at the time. Wait, I liked the way he dressed,” Essie joked.
Donald picks up the story: “Anyway, those days couples married quicker than they do today.” Then Essie completes his sentences while looking at him for confirmation: “And I suppose we followed the routine of courting and then marriage, hey darling?”
When the war ended, rationing became harder in England than it was during the war.
“Families moved and we decided to come to South Africa,” Donald said.
“I decided to make the move and work at GM and my wife, being the loyal woman she is said, ‘If that’s where you want to go, I will go with you’.”
The couple were married on December 11 1943. “We were married by a dean at All Saints Anglican Church in Luton, and he tied the knot, tight, and it’s never been broken,” he said. Looking back on their big day Essie said everything they had was borrowed.
“My dress – the lot. Donald’s aunt made a huge fruit cake with icing and it looked lovely – pity it ended up tasting like soap, because everything had to be cleaned thoroughly at the time!”
Donald remembers the wine: “Someone brought Algerian wine – it was the most horrible stuff I’ve ever tasted!”
On staying together, Donald said: “Have a sense of humour. Settle an argument before you go to sleep. Say sorry. Goodness, the making up is good.”
Essie said the couple did not have many arguments, to which Don quipped: “Well, you never let me.”
They have four children, Barry, Nicholas, Jill and the late Janet; seven grandchildren and five great grandchildren. Their son, Barry, an honorary canon of the Anglican Diocese of Port Elizabeth, said he had not met a couple to match their example yet.
“Their marriage is certainly an inspiration to us all.
“My wife and I celebrate our 46th wedding anniversary on the same night as their celebration dinner in December, which will be held on the 23rd, so we feel that we are living up to their example.
“They have cherished their relationship through hard and tragic circumstances as well as the many good times.”
Queen Elizabeth will send them a personal card of congratulations on their 70th anniversary.
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